Gatwick Airport suspended all flights due to an air traffic control system problem which caused lengthy delays for airline passengers.
Incoming flights were diverted to other airports across the county, according to information on the Gatwick website.
"We are working with ANS, our air traffic control provider, to rectify this issue as quickly as possible," Britain's second-busiest airport said on Twitter.
A Gatwick spokesperson issued an update at 7.10pm to say that flights both in and out of the airport had recommenced.
“Due to an air traffic control systems issue in Gatwick’s control tower, flights were suspended between 17.08 and 19.00", a statement said.
"Flights have resumed, but passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as we return to full operations.”
One passenger complained of "total chaos" on their Thomas Cook flight from the Canary Islands as their pilot attempted to find a landing location.
Have you been affected by the delays at Gatwick? Email [email protected]
Stefano told the Mirror: "Flight from Fuerteventura was meant to be flying into Gatwick, circled the Midlands for an hour was told we were landing in Manchester.
Stefano said they eventually landed in Birmingham – 126 miles from their original destination.
Some passengers were "crying and panicking” due to the confusion, he added.
The technical glitch affected both arrivals and departures.
At least four flights were cancelled and some 20 flights were diverted elsewhere, the BBC reported.
European air safety organisation Eurocontrol warned that the issue was likely to persist until 9pm.
Gatwick staff have told travellers to get in touch with their airline for further details about the status of their flights.
Passengers took to Twitter to complain that their flights had been grounded for hours as they waited on the tarmac.
The problem affected services from 5pm, leaving some people stranded in cramped cabins for hours as they awaited clearance for take off.
In one instance, an easyJet pilot was pictured leaving the cockpit to tell disgruntled passengers that their journey to Amsterdam had been temporarily suspended.
One social media user reported: "For all those asking – no chance of any planes landing until at least 10pm tonight according to the easyJet flight I just boarded.
"Shame on Gatwick for a) not having a proper backup system and b) not communicating this more clearly."
Kat Holt said on Twitter: "Can you advise how long you anticipate the issue fix to take – currently stuck in Crete being told “significant delays."
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