Air traffic controller sickness forces Gatwick Airport runway to close

Empty runway at Gatwick airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The runway at Gatwick Airport had to be closed four times

Gatwick Airport was forced to temporarily shut its runway four times because of staff sickness, causing flights to be diverted and delays.

Only one air traffic controller out of a scheduled three was at work in the control tower at the time.

The runway was closed to enable the controller to take mandatory breaks on shift through Sunday and Monday.

Two inbound flights were diverted and several were delayed on Sunday morning and four were delayed on Monday.

The air traffic controller took the two one-hour breaks per shift to coincide with when there were no scheduled departures.

Some passengers took to social media to vent their frustration.

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said the staffing issue had been resolved.

"We worked closely with air traffic controllers and airlines to minimise the impact to passengers. We apologise for the inconvenience caused."