Technical problems with Exeter Airport's two fire trucks have resulted in the cancellation of most flights.
Four flights left the airport before the problem arose.
Hundreds of passengers on Flybe flights to destinations including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle and the Channel Islands were affected.
The airport has apologised to customers for the "embarrassing" situation. A spokesman said flights are due to resume on Tuesday.
Some passengers were transferred by bus to Bristol Airport for alternative flights.
The airport said it was confident suitable fire cover would be in place for scheduled flights on Tuesday and has asked passengers to check in as normal.
Airport spokesman Stephen Ayres told BBC News it was a very unusual occurrence.
"We are embarrassed - we have let us passengers down today," he said.