A drone spotted flying in the vicinity of London Gatwick Airport has led to the closure of its runway and the diversion of five arriving flights.

According to an airport spokesman, the runway was closed twice, initially for nine minutes and then for five minutes, after the drone was identified.

In a statement, Gatwick Airport was reported by the BBC as saying: “Runway operations at Gatwick were suspended between 18:10 BST and 18:19, and again from 18:36 to 18:41, resulting in a small number of go-arounds and diverts.

“Operations have resumed and the police continue to investigate.”

"Operations have resumed and the police continue to investigate."

It has been reported that four Easyjet flights and one British Airways aircraft were diverted, while other flights had to circle the airport as a precautionary measure.

Of the five rerouted flights, the worst affected was reported to be an Easyjet aircraft flying from Milan to Gatwick Airport that was delayed by more than three hours after it was diverted to Bournemouth, reported The Independent.

A similar disruption affected other Easyjet flights from Naples and Inverness, which had to be diverted to Stansted.

A British Airways flight was forced to fly from Valencia to Bournemouth Airport instead of arriving at Gatwick, according to The Telegraph.

In addition, departing flights at the airport were grounded, causing further delays.