Couple attempts to flag down plane on runway after getting to airport late

A young Italian couple flying home from Malta just learned that an airliner couldn’t be hailed like a taxicab.

Stuck in traffic on their way to Malta’s international airport in Luqa Wednesday, Matteo Clementi, 26, and Enrica Apollonio, 23 got to the gate too late to board their Ryanair flight. Undeterred, the twosome opened an emergency fire door onto the tarmac, and began signaling the pilots that they wished to board. Quickly apprehended, they has a brief jail stay, and were fined about $2,650, The Daily Mail reported.

The Times of Malta, via the Daily Mail said that the plane’s engines were running, and the stairs had been removed when Clementi and Apollonio ran out of the Departures Area of the terminal.

Dispelling earlier reports that the couple forced open a security door, a spokesperson for Malta International Airport told MailOnline Travel:

“The mechanism of the Fire Emergency doors, includes a magnet which is specifically designed to release when it is forced open in case of a fire.”

The spokesperson also clarified that the incident is being seen as a safety breach and not a security breach, as “passengers in the departures area have already been screened for any security threats when passing through the Central Security Screening Point … passengers (at the gate) have already accessed the highest level of security at the airport.”

At the couple’s hearing, the defense counsel said that Wednesday was Apollonio's 23rd birthday, and she was looking forward to celebrating it with her family, “but instead spent it in a cell.”

The defense asked for the pair to be handed a suspended sentence, as paying the fine would be a struggle, but magistrate Doreen Clarke rejected this notion.

Clarke indicated the fine conveys how serious airport trespass incidents are, but she did grant the couple’s request to pay in installments.

MIA’s spokesperson “regrets that a holiday to Malta had to end in this way but reminds passengers that safety and security are of the utmost importance at any airport and such issues cannot be dealt with lightly.”

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