With flames pouring from one wing of the Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the captain managed to circle and put the aircraft back down on the runway in Phuket, bursting a wheel in the process.
All 249 passengers aboard flight AB/BER7425 – said to be mostly Germans – are understood to have been evacuated safely, and the fire has now been extinguished.
The passengers have been taken from the airport to hotels while they await news of how they will continue their journey.
The crippled aircraft is still sitting on the runway. All flights in and out of the airport are delayed until the aircraft can be towed away.
Air Berlin is a major airline, in Germany second only to Lufthansa. It has a fleet of 135 aircraft.
Founded in 1978 as a charter airline, it has only one earlier recorded incident, in 2010, when one of its aircraft skidded off the runway at Nuremberg Airport during takeoff on a domestic flight, causing the airport to be closed for a few hours.