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Gatwick Runway Closure Leads to Delays and Diversions
Runway movements at London Gatwick Airport were halted for nearly an hour on Wednesday afternoon after the main runway was temporarily closed for emergency repairs. The closure led to numerous flight diversions and delays throughout the afternoon and evening.
Closure Due to Reported Fuel Leak
Initial reports indicate that an aircraft experienced a fuel leak on Runway 08R/26L. Emergency equipment attended the scene and the runway was subsequently shut down for repairs. Reports of the closure began appearing on social media shortly before 4:00 p.m. Data from Flightradar24 shows that the last flight to use the runway before the closure was TUI Flight 321, which landed at the airport at 3:37 p.m. at the end of its flight from Kavala International Airport in Greece.
According to an airport spokesperson, “the main runway was closed for a short time today (16 August) due to emergency repairs. Four flights were diverted. The runway is now open and operating as normal. Safety is our top priority and we apologise for to passengers for any inconvenience.”
Dozens of Delays and Diversions
Although the airport stated that only four flights were diverted, data from Flightradar24 and FlightAware appears to show that a total of ten inbound flights diverted to other airports in the area during the runway closure. These flights are listed below in the order of their scheduled arrival time at Gatwick:
- EasyJet Flight 8240 from Santorini (Thira) International Airport in Greece performed a go-around at Gatwick at 3:39 p.m. before diverting to Bournemouth Airport.
- EasyJet Flight 8326 from Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport turned for a final approach to Runway 08R at Gatwick at approximately 3:39 p.m. before turning away from the airport and diverting to London Southend Airport.
- TAP Air Portugal Flight 1336 from Humberto Delgado Airport in Lisbon, Portugal diverted to London Heathrow Airport, landing at 4:15 p.m.
- Aurigny Air Services Flight 606 from Guernsey Airport diverted to Southampton Airport, arriving at 4:20 p.m.
- EasyJet Flight 8198 from Kefalonia International Airport in Greece diverted to London Luton Airport, arriving at 4:25 p.m.
- British Airways EuroFlyer Flight 2813 from Corfu International Airport in Greece diverted to London Stansted Airport, arriving at 4:23 p.m.
- British Airways EuroFlyer from Flight 2833 from Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia diverted to London Stansted Airport, arriving at 4:36 p.m.
- EasyJet Flight 804 from George Best Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland diverted to London Luton Airport, arriving at 4:23 p.m.
- EasyJet Flight 8216 from Heraklion International Airport in Greece diverted to London Luton Airport, arriving at 4:29 p.m.
- Turkish Airlines Flight 1997 from Istanbul Airport diverted to London Heathrow Airport, arriving at 4:34 p.m.
The first flight to use the runway after it reopened was Vueling Flight 6225 to Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, taking off from Runway 08R at 4:20 p.m.
As of 9:00 p.m., data from FlightAware showed that a total of 410 flights have been delayed at London Gatwick on Wednesday, representing 42% of flights throughout the day.
Gatwick’s Runway Operations
Despite being the United Kingdom’s second busiest airport, Gatwick Airport uses a single-runway operation. The main runway – Runway 08R/26L – is in use most of the time, with the parallel northern Runway 08L/26R used only for emergencies or when the main runway is closed. The northern runway is shorter and is used as a taxiway during normal airport operations. It is unclear why the northern runway was not used during this latest runway closure.
Earlier this year, Gatwick Airport announced that it is planning to expand its northern runway to allow it to be used regularly. The airport is expected to submit its application for the expansion project soon, with an anticipated construction start date in 2025. As Gatwick reached capacity before the COVID-19 pandemic, the runway expansion would add much-needed capacity to the airport.
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