Flights from Gatwick Airport were halted this afternoon following reports of drone activity in the vicinity of the airspace.
At least 12 incoming flights were diverted from Gatwick while an investigation into the suspected drone took place.
A departing passenger, Tarquin Cooper, tweeted: “Are you aware Gatwick is closed due to drone activity? Have been sitting on the tarmac for the last hour.”
Seven easyJet arrivals have been diverted: five to Luton, one to Southend and one to Bristol.
British Airways arrivals from Faro and Palma landed at Stansted instead. Essex Airport was also the unexpected destination for passengers flying with Vueling from Rome, Tui from Kavala and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul.
As planes and pilots lost their position and dozens of planes were delayed from Sussex Airport, disruption will continue for the remainder of the day. Gatwick is the busiest single-runway airport in the world and the system has few gaps when flight schedules change.
Passengers are not eligible for cash compensation as the disruption is beyond the airline’s control. However, if they are delayed overnight, they must be provided with hotel accommodation and meals if necessary.
A Gatwick spokesman said: “Passenger safety is an absolute priority for the airport and – in accordance with established procedures – operations at London Gatwick were temporarily suspended at 1.44pm pending investigations into the sighting of a suspected drone near the airfield.
“These investigations are now complete and the airfield reopened at 2.35pm.
“Twelve incoming aircraft were diverted to other airports during the investigation, however we expect many of these will return to London Gatwick today.”
Meanwhile, thousands of passengers hoping to travel between London and Paris found their trains canceled due to strikes in France.
Four afternoon and evening trips from St Pancras International to the Gare du Nord in the French capital were canceled, as were many from Paris to London.
Eurostar informs passengers: “Due to short-term labor disputes in France, we had to cancel some trains today. Our trains and stations are very busy. Please only come to the stations when your train is running on schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience.”