Wednesday 21 February 2018

Gatwick Airport forced to close main runway because of 'hole' in the tarmac

Will Worley

Gatwick Airport, one of the busiest travel hubs in the country, was forced to temporarily close its main runway on Sunday evening after a hole was reportedly found in the tarmac.

Planes were prevented from landing and forced to circle the skies above the airport. Some passengers reported that their flights had been diverted to Southampton, around 80 miles away.

A backup runway, not usually used for public flights, was opened at around 7.40pm on Sunday evening.

The full closure, which lasted around 10 minutes, was described as a "precautionary measure" after the hole was discovered during a routine inspection of the runway, an airport spokeswoman said.

Eight aircraft were diverted in total and several flights delayed as a result of the find.

Gatwick is a single-runway airport but does have a second runway on site, which is only used when the main landing strip is unavailable.

The airport tweeted in the wake of the incident: "Our main runway is now open and operating and we are working hard to get you on your way.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this evening. Your safety is our number one priority."

Several passengers expressed their confusion on social media after discovering their flights had been diverted.

One user, tweeting under the name Isobel, said: "Major turbulence the whole plane journey home and then we're diverted to an airport miles away from Gatwick because the runways shut".

Marie Leonard tweeted: "What's happening Gatwick-Airport tonight? Our flight has been diverted".

Another passenger using the name Charla wrote: "Flight delayed then diverted to Southampton because all runways at Gatwick are closed ... great".

Independent News Service

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