London - Ryanair has grounded three planes after cracks were found between the wings and fuselage.
The budget carrier had been ordered to carry out checks on its older Boeing 737-800s after defects were found in identical jets operated by other airlines.
The problem affects the "pickle fork" section of the plane, which attaches the wing to the main body. Aviation regulators ordered urgent inspections after the issue was spotted on jets owned by Australian airline Qantas and the US carrier South West.
Ryanair said last week that it did not expect the issue to have an impact. But on Wednesday it was forced to confirm its planes had been affected after copies of repair logs were leaked to The Guardian.
The airline described as "rubbish" a suggestion it had quietly withdrawn the planes from service without telling members of the public. According to flight logs, two of the jets were ferried to California for repairs. The other is in a hangar at Stansted.