Gatwick airport
Several flights were cancelled and delayed after a hole was discovered on the main runway at London's Gatwick airport Getty Images

The main runway at Gatwick airport was closed after reports that a hole was discovered on the runway during an inspection. Several flights were cancelled and delayed as they were forced to circle above the airport for 10 minutes.

The alternative runway was opened at 7.40pm on Sunday (4 September) as flights were diverted as a 'precautionary measure'

An airport spokeswoman said: "This evening at 19:40, Gatwick had to switch operations from its usual southern runway to its stand-in northern runway, as a precautionary measure, following findings during one of our regular maintenance checks.

"During this change over we had a period of approximately 10 minutes when the airport was unable to accept landing aircraft, resulting in approximately eight aircraft being diverted, and delays to flights.

"We would like to apologise to any passengers impacted by this but the safety of our passengers is our number one priority. We are working hard to resume usual operations and get our passengers on their way."

Gatwick is a single-runway airport, but has a second runway which is used when the main runway is unavailable, Mail Online reports.

Meanwhile, unhappy travellers facing travel chaos as a result of the runway closure turned to Twitter to express their annoyance.