A Birmingham-bound aeroplane made a dramatic emergency landing minutes after take-off when hundreds of gallons of fuel started leaking from a wing.
A wave of panic spread through the Thomas Cook Boeing 757 in Italy after passengers spotted the trail of liquid streaming from the right hand side of the plane.
Flight 5739 was just minutes in to its journey from Turin’s Caselle Airport to Birmingham International on Sunday afternoon when the captain made an announcement to the 231 people on board.
The pilot had to circle the runway for 30 minutes before it could safely land as firefighters waited on standby.
But terrified passengers said they worried that there wouldn’t be enough fuel to even get back to Turin.
One said: "The was immediately evident to those sitting on the right hand side and so there was an immediate wave of alarm through the plane.
"The pilot immediately came on the Tannoy and explained what was going on but some people were worried that because of the amount of fuel leaking there wasn’t enough to get back to Turin.
"In the end the plane landed safely and the pilot and crew were fantastic there was a big cheer and a round of applause from everyone once we were back on the ground."
Engineers were sent from Birmingham to Turin to fix the leak which has been blamed on a faulty valve.
Passengers on board, mostly skiers on half-term trips, were put up in a hotel before finally returning to Birmingham at 9.30am today , some 17 and a half hours late.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: "There was a fuel leak diagnosed shortly after take-off and the plane was returned to the airport.
"It was in the air for about 30 minutes.
"Engineers fixed the plane overnight and it returned to the UK this morning."