Flights from Gatwick Airport were halted this afternoon due to reports of drone activity near the airspace.
At least 12 domestic flights were diverted from Gatwick for nearly an hour while an investigation took place into the suspected drone.
One departing passenger, Tarquin Cooper, tweeted: “Did you know Gatwick is closed due to drone activity? Been sitting on the runway for an hour.”
Seven easyJet arrivals have been diverted – five to Luton, one to Southend and one to Bristol.
British Airways arrivals from Faro and Palma have instead landed at Stansted. Essex Airport is also a surprise destination for passengers flying on Vueling from Rome, Tui from Kavala and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul.
With planes and pilots out of position, and dozens of planes delayed leaving Sussex Airport, the disruption will continue for the rest of the day. Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world, with the system experiencing few delays when schedules are disrupted.
Passengers are not required to pay cash compensation for such a delay, as the disruption is beyond the control of the airlines. But if they are delayed overnight, they must be provided with hotel accommodation and meals if needed.
A Gatwick spokesman said: “Passenger safety is the airport’s absolute priority and – in accordance with established procedures – operations at London Gatwick are temporarily suspended at 13.44pm while calls are in progress. Investigation into sighting of a suspected drone near the airport takes place.
“These investigations are now [been] completed and the airport reopened at 2:35 pm.
“Twelve incoming aircraft have been diverted to other airports during the investigation, however, we expect many of these aircraft to return to London Gatwick today.”
Meanwhile, thousands of passengers wanting to travel between London and Paris have seen their trains canceled due to a strike in France.
Four trips from St Pancras International to Gare du Nord in the French capital were canceled in the afternoon and evening, with the same number of trips from Paris to London.
Eurostar is telling passengers: “Due to industrial action in France at short notice, we had to cancel some trains today. Our trains and stations are very busy. Please only go to the station if your train is scheduled to run. We are very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”
In December 2018, 120,000 passengers were affected by delays and cancellations due to drones repeatedly flying over Gatwick Airport, with all flights having to land at least 33 hours before the holiday. Christmas.