Travel chaos at Gatwick as British Airways plane blocks runway for 50 minutes

Travel chaos at Gatwick as British Airways plane blocks runway for 50 minutes

Sixteen flights have been diverted and dozens more are likely to be heavily delayed or cancelled at London Gatwick airport, after a British Airways flight to Vancouver abandoned its departure in the middle of the runway.

No one is believed to have been hurt when BA2279 rejected take-off at high speed, leading to overheated brakes

The aircraft is a Boeing 777-200, built in 1999.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “Our pilots took the precautionary decision to cancel take-off due to a technical issue. Safety is always our top priority and we apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused.”

But all arrivals and departures at the world’s busiest single-runway came to a halt for 50 minutes. The first flight to divert was an incoming British Airways flight from Verona, which went to Stansted.

Also diverted to the Essex airport are easyJet flights from Palermo and Vueling from Barcelona.

Many easyJet flights intending to touch down at Gatwick have instead landed at Luton. BA arrivals from Malaga and Orlando landed at Heathrow.

The Norwegian flight from Stockholm landed in Bournemouth.

The most extreme diversion was an Emirates A380 “SuperJumbo” from Dubai that went to Brussels. It refuelled and departed again for Gatwick, but was forced to hold before finally landing at 4.30pm, four hours behind schedule.

An estimated 500 passengers are waiting to depart for Dubai, but many of them will miss onward connections.

Operations resumed at Gatwick shortly before 1pm but disruption will continue for the rest of the day with planes, pilots and passengers out of position.

A Gatwick spokesperson said: “The main runway was closed for 50 minutes due to a departing aircraft having hot brakes.

“Safety is our top priority and London Gatwick’s dedicated airport fire service swiftly attended to support the aircraft.

“The runway is now open and operating as normal.

“Twenty-three flights were cancelled and there are a number of delays due to the knock-on impact. We are working with our airlines and other airport partners to minimise disruption. Passengers should contact their airlines directly for the latest flight information.”

Gatwick has a standby runway but it could not be pressed into service because fire crews were attending the BA plane.

The incident happened on the busiest day of the year for air traffic in Europe.

Thousands of passengers are enduring long delays due to poor weather in various parts of Continental Europe.

The Independent has asked British Airways what arrangements will be made to get the passengers to Vancouver, and fly back the travellers who are booked to fly from the Canadian city tonight.