Irish airline Ryanair has admitted that three of its planes issued Mayday calls within minutes of each other after running low on fuel.

The budget carrier has confirmed reports that the three planes had to make emergency landings at Valencia airport in Spain two weeks ago.

The flights were diverted to the airport after thunderstorms in Madrid.

Pilots on the three planes had to call mayday emergencies because of low fuel with two of the calls made within three minutes of each other.

The Ryanair flights were given priority to land at Valencia, an hour south of Madrid, after the emergency calls.

Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara confirmed the low-fuel emergencies to the Sunday Independent newspaper.

He said: “Due to thunderstorms over Madrid on Thursday (July 26), Spanish ATC (air traffic control) instructed Ryanair aircraft to divert to Valencia where they were placed in a hold pattern.

“Sometime later the aircraft advised ATC that they would not have sufficient fuel reserves to return to Madrid and were permitted to land in Valencia.

“All aircraft landed normally. Ryanair sincerely apologises to the passengers affected by these diversions, which were due to adverse weather.”

The paper also reports on voice recordings of a conversation between a Ryanair pilot and air traffic control in Valencia.

It says the flight commander clearly calls ‘mayday’ because of low fuel. Less than three minutes later another Ryanair pilot also issued a mayday to Valencia ATC for the same reason.

The report states that the issue of how much fuel flight commanders on Ryanair aircraft are allowed to carry has been part of an efficiency drive at the budget airline.

A 69-year-old woman was denied permission to bring a change of colostomy bag with her on a Ryanair flight.