Budget airline Ryanair has criticised a French airport for its failure to provide special assistance to an elderly passenger who was left behind at the gate.

The “unacceptable” error was compounded by Bordeaux Airport staff then mistakenly informing the crew of the Edinburgh-bound flight that all passengers had boarded, the airline said. 

When the mistake was finally relayed to the flight crew, the plane, which had begun to taxi onto the runway ahead of takeoff, returned to the stand to allow the wheelchair-bound passenger and their companion to board.

There are unconfirmed reports that the pilot advised passengers that the plane had to return to the stand after being informed that a "personal item" had been left behind.

READ MORE: Second L.A. bound flight in two days declares mid-air emergency over Scotland

The incident meant that the Tuesday evening flight to the Scottish capital was delayed by over two hours. 

Data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 confirms that the flight departed Bordeaux Airport at 12:15am on Wednesday, over two hours after it was scheduled to depart.

The flight then landed at Edinburgh Airport at 1:04am against a scheduled time of arrival of 11:10pm.

In the wake of the error, Ryanair said it is working with Bordeaux Airport to prevent such an incident from recurring. 

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable that Bordeaux Airport failed to provide this passenger with the special assistance required to board this flight from Bordeaux to Edinburgh (19 Sept) despite Ryanair paying for this service.

“Not only did they fail to board this passenger, but they misinformed the crew on this flight that all passengers had been boarded when in fact this passenger had not, and the aircraft began to taxi onto the runway.

"Ground staff at Bordeaux Airport realised their error and notified the crew who returned to stand in order to board the passenger.  

“It is abysmal that Ryanair customers requiring special assistance are being let down by Bordeaux Airport and we are working with them to ensure that this does not recur.”

The incident comes after two planes travelling from London Heathrow to Los Angeles declared mid-air emergencies while in the skies above Scotland.

On Sunday evening, Virgin Atlantic flight Flight VS23, operating on a Boeing 787 aircraft, declared a 'Squawk 7700' while flying over the Hebrides.

READ MORE: Virgin Atlantic flight to L.A. declares mid-air emergency over Hebrides

Footage from flight radar app FlightRadar24 showed the plane performing a u-turn over North Uist at 34,000 feet before diverting back to Heathrow. 

Virgin Atlantic later confirmed that the aircraft returned to Heathrow "as a precautionary measure" as a result of a "minor technical issue". 

The flight was subsequently cancelled and passengers were provided with overnight hotel accommodation, with passengers then travelling to Los Angeles on alternative services.

Less than 24 hours later, Delta Air Lines flight DL187 made a u-turn over Glasgow on Monday evening after also declaring an emergency at 34,000 feet. 

A Delta Air Lines spokesperson told The Herald that the flight returned to Heathrow shortly after take-off "due to a medical emergency". 

Unconfirmed reports online suggested the reason for the diversion was because one of the flight deck crew felt unwell. 

Passengers were also provided hotel accommodation and were reaccommodated on alternative flights.