Nearly 19 incoming flights were diverted and delayed after an oil spillage on London's Gatwick airport on 29 February. Passengers were advised to contact their airlines to get updated information, as the airport runway remained closed for over an hour.

"Arriving and departing flights recommenced from Gatwick at 11.38am. The runway closure has caused some flights to be diverted to other airports in the area and there will be delays to some departing flights," said an airport spokesman. "Friends and family waiting for passengers should contact the relevant airline for the latest information."

The delays started around 10.15am on 29 February. While no official statements were released confirming the origins of the oil leak, it was confirmed that the delays are due to a spillage. "The runway has been closed temporarily due to a spillage on the runway, but will reopen shortly," tweeted Gatwick Airport.

According to reports, a Virgin Boeing 747 had dumped the oil on the runway and the delays were longer than reported. "We were initially just told there were delays, and it took quite a long time before we found out what the problem was," passenger Claire Rowland who was sitting on board a Norwegian flight to Helsinki told The Independent.

"Even after the pilot told us there was an oil spillage on the runway, I was looking at departures [online] and there was nothing on there to indicate to people that there was a problem ....These things happen, but I find the lack of information from the airport staggering. They are one of the busiest airports in the world so there will be delays, but it is tempting to read this as deliberate."

Meanwhile, an Emirates flight, EK15, heading to Gatwick from Dubai was forced to divert to London Heathrow due to the delays. Passenger Jade Louise Davis who was on board the flight told Gulf News that passengers were advised by the Emirates crew not to leave the aircraft and had to wait for nearly three hours before the aircraft could leave for London Gatwick.

"We have asked for alternate methods to be used such as coaches as it would be a lot quicker, but have been told Heathrow passengers have priority ...There are small children [on-board] who are getting very agitated," said Davis from Crawley, England who was arriving in London from Perth, Australia.