Spain’s Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission opened an enquiry last month into an incident at Málaga airport on September 11 involving two Boeing 737s operated by Ryanair. The incident passed off without any consequences.

It appears that one aircraft leaving en route to Liverpool and another arriving from Hamburg were scheduled to use the same runway. According to reports, the departing 737 was given clearance to move onto the runway and take off, but as it gathered speed and lifted the nose for take-off, the incoming 737 passed overhead. The second aircraft had approached the runway but had not been given landing clearance.

The preliminary report issued by the Commission into why the 737s came within the minimum separation distance has attributed the incident to the use of a single runway despite the heavy workload. Air Traffic Controllers, while still awaiting the final report, said on social media that it was not untypical for such incidents to occur at busy airports operating only one runway. Other comments added that controllers always want to use a second runway, but that staff shortages means that this is not always possible.

The second runway at Málaga airport opened in 2012 allowing up to 37 landings and take-offs per hour when both runways are open. It has been closed at times because of lack of staff, and through industrial action by some airport workers.