The incident happened on 20 July to a 10-year old jet, registered OY-SEB, which Sterling operates on lease from International Lease Finance (ILFC).
Copenhagen-based Sterling says about 35 passengers had departed from the jet after it docked when, for reasons still to become clear, the airbridge connected to the aircraft started moving upwards.
“Some of the passengers who were just leaving ran back inside the aircraft,” says a spokeswoman for the airline. “It started to move up and tipped onto its tail.”
An emergency stop system was activated but could not stop the aircraft settling with its nose-gear off the ground. Remaining passengers left through a rear exit, but no-one was injured during the unusual event.
The spokeswoman says the aircraft was temporarily removed from service but found to have been undamaged.
Sterling sent a spare 737-700 to pick up passengers due to depart on the affected aircraft, although the smaller seating capacity of the type compared with the -800 meant 34 passengers had stay in Malaga to await a later flight.