Passengers have been urged not to travel to the airport / Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Thousands of passengers left stranded

Thousands of business travellers have had their journeys wrecked because of what is said to be a hole in the runway at London City airport.

The Docklands airport failed to open for operations this morning, and instead issued a statement: “Due to unexpected essential runway maintenance we are currently experiencing delays and cancellations.”

Passengers have been urged not to travel to the airport.

With dozens of flights cancelled or diverted, the direct losses to airlines are likely to run to millions of pounds. Both of British Airways’ business-class only departures to New York were cancelled, while the inbound overnight flight from JFK was diverted to Gatwick. At least 26 other incoming flights were diverted, to airports that included Southend and Stansted in Essex.

A spokesman for British Airways said: “Following unexpected runway maintenance at London City Airport this morning the airport is experiencing severe delays, which has disrupted our flight schedule. We are sorry for the delays to our customers' journeys and our team at London City are working hard to minimise the disruption.“


CityJet, one of the leading carriers using London City, said: “They are working on resolving the issue - we will keep our customers updated on the situation.”

Inside the small terminal there were scenes of chaos, with reports of some passengers being held on board aircraft for two hours waiting for a possible departure slot. Andy Skipper tweeted: “All flights are cancelled - I've never seen more men in suits rubbing their brows and looking at their phones.”

Eurocontrol in Brussels initially announced that flights would resume at 10am with reduced operations. But they did not - and the latest information suggests that noon is a more likely time.

Passengers are not entitled to cash compensation for the delays, because they are beyond the airlines’ control. But carriers are obliged to provide meals and accommodation if necessary until passengers reach their destination.