Madrid Airport at standstill due to 'suspicious drone activity'

3 February 2020, 13:07

Madrid–Barajas Airport
Madrid–Barajas Airport. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A major Spanish airport has suspended all flights after reports of drone activity nearby.

All arrivals and departures from Madrid–Barajas Airport in the Spanish capital have been halted after "suspicious drone activity" was reported nearby.

A drone alert was activated at approximately 12:40 local time and is expected to last until at least 14:40 as a precaution. 

Authorities have warned that delays are to be expected for the foreseeable future until the situation is brought under control.

So far, a total of 17 flights have been diverted from the airport: seven to Valencia, three to Barcelona, two to Alicante, two to Valladolid and three to Zaragoza.

The Spanish Transport Ministry said in a tweet the airspace around the Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas airport has been closed.

They advised people to check with airport authorities for further developments.

Aviation Analyst Alex Macheras wrote on Twitter: “Madrid Barajas airport has suspended all departures/arrivals following a possible drone sighting.”

Spanish air controllers Enaire tweeted: "Delays at Adolfo Suarez Airport Madrid - Barajas before the possible presence of drones nearby.

"A drone is not a toy, it is an aircraft."

An investigation is ongoing. Anyone caught flying drones near Spanish airports are liable for a fine of up to €90,000. 

Furious passengers have taken to social media to express their anger at the situation.

One user wrote: "Idiot flying a drone at Madrid airport, let’s hope they get them quickly otherwise I could be sitting on this plane for a long time!!"

Another said: "Waiting on the runway at Madrid Airport waiting for flight to depart.. drone sighting by ATC so no takeoff in sight..."

Someone whose plane had to be diverted wrote: "Our flight to Madrid was rerouted mid-air to Zaragoza. Because someone is flying drones at Madrid airport. And now the whole airport has had to close indefinitely."

Madrid–Barajas Airport is the main international airport out of Spain and the second largest in Europe, and is located just 7 miles from the city centre.

Just before 1.30pm, Enaire confirmed the airport "is now in operation".