The man became unconscious about an hour after the trip began when the Ryanair flight was 35,000 feet in the air.
It happened on Friday July 16 on flight FR3232 from Manchester to Malaga.
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Eyewitness Emma Gaskell told MEN that staff were doing their best to initiate first aid and then called on anyone on board with medical training to come forward.
Emma, who is a medical trainer and nurse, answered calls from the cabin crew but discovered the man had no pulse.
Two other passengers and crew performed CPR for 25 minutes and used a defibrillator as the captain made an emergency landing in Nantes, France.
Emma said French paramedics later confirmed the man was dead.
She said: “The paramedics came and took him off the plane and it took them another 15 minutes but he didn’t succeed.
“The crew were a bit shaken up and needed time.
The man is believed to be from the Manchester area and traveling with his family, including his son and grandchildren.
Emma praised the Ryanair staff for handling the situation and for having a defibrillator on board.
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Emma added: “The defib is generally very successful.
“Unfortunately on this occasion it was not a good ending, but in a different situation it could have saved someone.
“You don’t know when something like this might happen and I think it’s important to raise awareness.
“The Ryanair staff were really, really good.
“I’m glad I was able to help – everyone did their best. “
The flight continued to Malaga and arrived around 3 a.m. on Saturday July 17.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “Ryanair expresses its deepest condolences to the bereaved and provides all necessary assistance. “
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