emirates planes
The Emirates terminal in Dubai. Image Credit: File photo

Dubai: Passengers flying out of Dubai to London have encountered delays following the latest shutdown of the United Kingdom’s Gatwick airport.

Some flights from the UAE had to be diverted or delay their departure after Britain’s aviation hub had to suspend operations following reports that two drones were flying over its airfield.

The UK's second-busiest airport was first closed from 9.03pm on Wednesday to 3am the next day, but further sighting of drone activity in the area prompted authorities to close the facility again from 3:45am.

According to a spokesperson from Emirates, one of its UK-bound flights was diverted to another airport, while another passenger plane had to delay its take-off by nearly two hours on Thursday due to the emergency closure.

EK 11, which departed Dubai International at 2:53am, was diverted to London Heathrow.

The second flight, EK 15, which was scheduled to take off from Dubai at 7:40am, managed to depart at 9:23am, pushing back its arrival time to past 12 noon.

“Emirates can confirm its flight EK11 was diverted to London Heathrow on 20 December 2018 due to London Gatwick airport closure,” the spokesperson said.

“Emirates flight EK15 to London Gatwick [also] departed Dubai with a delay of 1 hour [and] 43 minutes.”

The airline has apologized for the inconvenience caused by the delays, but said it is the safety and well-being of its passengers and crew that is “ of utmost importance and will not be compromised.”

Planes were not allowed to take off from Gatwick, while several flights were diverted to other airports late Wednesday after drones were spotted flying over the area.

The first shutdown took effect from 9.03pm to 3am the next day. However, a further sighting of drones in the vicinity of the airport has forced the runway to be closed again from 3:45am, as authorities conducted an investigation.

“All flights to and from Gatwick are suspended due to ongoing drone activity around the airport. Unfortunately, there are significant delays and cancellations to all flights today,” the airport said on Twitter on Thursday.

Passengers have been advised to check with their airlines first before proceeding to the airport. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience today, but the safety of our passengers and staff is our number one priority.”