London: London's Gatwick airport suspended all flights today after a US-bound passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing after suffering technical difficulties, the airport said.
The Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 to Orlando was carrying 13 crew and 299 passengers when it landed at 12:30 pm local time but they were all safely disembarked and the plane was secured, the airline confirmed.
Gatwick, lying to the south of London, is Britain's second largest air hub after London Heathrow and the busiest single-runway airport in the world, handling around 33 million passengers a year.
The plane "left Gatwick airport at 1048, bound for Orlando (in Florida), and returned at 1230 to make an emergency landing due to reports of a technical issue," an airport spokeswoman told AFP.
"The emergency services are on the scene, the aircraft is safe and the passengers have been safely disembarked.
"Because the aircraft is on the runway all flights in and out of the airport are currently suspended until further notice."
Television footage showed the grey and red aircraft on the runway surrounded by emergency vehicles.
The airline confirmed in a statement that flight VS27 from Gatwick to Orlando had returned to the London airport and been evacuated, following a "technical problem" on board.
It said the landing was a precautionary measure, adding: "The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Virgin Atlantic's top priority." (AFP)
First Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 00:19