A minimum of 19 flights that were supposed to land at the Gatwick Airport were diverted to other landing locations after the Gatwick runway was shut down between 10:15 AM and 11:40 AM. The shut-down was ordered as a result of a spillage that occurred on the Gatwick runway.
The spillage itself was said to have been caused from an oil-leak, which originated from a Virgin Airlines Boeing 747 during landing. However, the source of the spillage has not yet been confirmed.
According to a spokesperson from the airport, departure and landing from the airport resumed at 11:38 AM. The closure of the runway forced the airport to direct some flights to other airports for landing.
The official announcement from the airport, during the shutdown, stated that some departures would be delayed and that friends or family members should contact their relevant airlines to know when and where passengers would land.
The shutdown had infuriated some passengers who had taken to social media to complain.
A passenger named Ryan Brackpool expressed his anger over the fact that his flight from Australia was forced to land at Heathrow and made to wait for 3 hours before being directed back to Gatwick. He took to Twitter to vent his frustration at the flight delay.
Similarly, a passenger named Jade Louise Davis Tweeted saying that passengers shouldn’t be expected to wait for 3 hours and then travel another half hour to get back to Gatwick. She demanded that passengers be allowed to disembark instead.
Another passenger named Bunny Hulme stated that passengers were made to wait for 5 hours. Bunny also demanded that the flight, EasyJet, should consider providing refunds for the delay.
This was followed by a complaint from a passenger named Joe Corlett who mentioned that what should have been a 30 mile flight ended in a 3 to 4 hour wait.
Claire Rowland, also a passenger, was forced to wait 80 minutes and she complained about the delay in sharing information about the spillage. She also complained about how even the flight’s pilots couldn’t answer her queries and that even they seemed uninformed.
Gatwick’s Handling of the Situation
Gatwick Airport informed the public about the spillage through Twitter at around 11 in the morning. The announcement was followed by a confirmation from the airport’s spokesperson, who also mentioned that 6 flights had been diverted.
According to flight tracking data, certain flights had been circling over the airport for quite some time. This included a British Airways flight, numbered as BA2957 and an Emirates flight, numbered as EK15. The former was expected to land at 11:05 AM, while the latter was diverted to Heathrow.
The Gatwick Airport is one of the United Kingdom’s most significant airports. It is the second busiest airport in the country and also the country’s second largest international airport. Located about 50 kilometres from the city of London, Gatwick sees over 40 million passengers flying in and flying out.