Panicked passengers were told that “we have five minutes of fuel left”, while dozens of British Airways and Virgin flights were hijacked from Heathrow airport this morning.
An unplanned request by the RAF to stop arrivals at busy London airport caused delays – with at least four BA flights and a Virgin Atlantic plane forced to land elsewhere.
And a passenger claimed that their flight to the virgin Atlantic received a severe warning while surrounding Heathrow.
British television producer Anne Henry told The Mirror that the Los Angeles flight was diverted to Gatwick due to a lack of fuel.
He said, “It was quite alarming when the captain announced after going around Heathrow for a while,” Ladies and gentlemen, we have about five to ten minutes of fuel left, so we may need to hijack Gatwick,
“We were on the ground for about an hour but we are not allowed to go down.”
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The closure of the airspace, requested by the RAF, lasted about 20 minutes.
A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said: “Our VS8 flight from Los Angeles to London Heathrow (17 January) was diverted to Gatwick due to a brief closure of the airspace on London Heathrow.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority, we are now doing everything we can to get our customers to their final destination as quickly as possible.
“We would like to apologize to our customers for interrupting their trip and thank them for their patience.”
An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF can confirm that a flight was completed this morning by one of our RAF Northolt resources, this flight was coordinated with Heathrow’s ATC but had to extend a few minutes to complete its sortie.
“The small delays caused to civilian air traffic are deplored.”
It is understood that the RAF flight was pre-planned.
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Other passengers turned to social media to share their concerns, with one who said, “Always on the ground and waiting for information. There appear to be two options right now, refuel and return to Heathrow or by bus to London”.
Another added: “Our pilot has just informed us that they are limiting arrivals to allow the landing of a plane with a security incident on board.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “Arrivals were briefly paused this morning due to a RAF request for an operational flight within Heathrow airspace.
“Arrivals now work normally.”