Gatwick: chaos after runway closed for two hours

Britain’s second-busiest airport has re-opened after all flights were suspended for two hours “due to an air traffic control systems issue”.

The closure of the runway began at 5.08pm. It re-opened at 7pm.

The airport said: “Flights have resumed, but passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as we return to full operations.”

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The problem related to the control tower. 

Gatwick has the busiest runway in the world, with a take-off or landing every 80 seconds at peak times.

Many arriving aircraft were diverted. 

A British Airways arrival from Tenerife is currently on the ground at Stansted. Another BA plane, inbound from Ibiza, touched down at Bournemouth, while a Verona arrival is at Heathrow.

Gatwick is the biggest base for easyJet, which in a normal day operates as many as 400 flights to and from the Sussex airport.

The airline’s diversions included services from Montpellier and Seville which landed at Luton, and from Krakow which arrived in Stansted.

The flight crew are hoping they can fly to Gatwick, but the queues of arrivals and departures are formidable.

An easyJet statement read: “Due to an earlier IT issue affecting all flights departing and arriving at London Gatwick Airport we expect delays and possible further disruption.

“Although outside of our control, we’re very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The airline also warned passengers they will not get any cash compensation: “The disruption is beyond our control and is considered an extraordinary circumstance.”

Disruption will continue well into the evening. The final wave of early evening departures from Gatwick is in disarray, with many flights cancelled and others severely delayed.

Norwegian appears to have cancelled flights to Helsinki, Gothenburg and Bergen, while Vueling has axed its evening flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Although passengers do not get cash compensation, they are entitled to meals and, if necessary, accommodation until they can be flown to their destinations.

Shortly before Christmas, Gatwick airport was closed for 33 hours, disrupting the plans of 160,000 passengers, because of unauthorised drone activity.

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