Ryanair left a wheelchair-bound passenger on the runway at Luton Airport because “all it was interested in was getting the plane airborne on time” according to a judge.

Jo Heath, who suffers multiple sclerosis, had to be carried on to the aircraft by her husband Paul using a fireman’s lift. Northampton County Court ruled the airline broke disability discrimination laws and breached its contract with Heath after its staff refused to help the couple in June 2008. The court awarded the Heaths £1,750.

Husband Paul said: “Ryanair tried to brush us under the carpet. They offered us more money than we eventually received but we refused it because they wanted us to sign a confidentiality clause.”

Jo Heath said: “I’m not terribly impressed with the pay-out but it’s not a question of money. It’s about standing up for people with disabilities.”

Judge Paul McHale ruled: “I find as a matter of fact that anything that interfered with the [aircraft] turnaround time was going to be ignored. All the defendant was interested in was getting the plane airborne on time.”

Ryanair said it would appeal on the grounds that Luton Airport was responsible for assisting the passengers under European Union law. The couple had submitted a special requirements request for a hydraulic Ambulift, which failed to turn up on the day.