26 Mar, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

Drone sighting at Spain’s Madrid-Barajas Airport causes flight disruptions on a busy Sunday

Los Pasillos De Aeropuerto Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Practicamente Vacios Por El Covid19
Iberia planes on the runway of Madrid Barajas-Adolfo Suarez Airport " (Photo by Fer Capdepon Arroyo/Pacific Press)

THE SIGHTING of a drone at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport caused flight delays on Sunday morning, at a time when many weekend return flights were arriving in or taking off from the Spanish capital. 

Spain’s airports authority Aena said in a tweet that their protocols for such an incident were put into place for around an hour before lunchtime, but had been deactivated by around 3pm.

Sources from the National Police confirmed to online daily El Confidencial that a pilot had spotted the drone over the 32-R runway. No aircraft had to be diverted to other airports, but they were forced to use a different runway.

The same sources confirmed that the drone was not brought down by the authorities, and that no arrests had been made. 

As well as landings, a number of take-offs were also delayed by the incident at Madrid’s main airport. 

Christmas drone show in Spain’s Malaga inaugurated this weekend
A drone (file photo above) was spotted on Sunday by a pilot at Madrid’s Barajas Airport.

Passengers took to social media to complain about disruption to their flights, to destinations such as Seville, Jerez and San Sebastian. 

The use of drones is not permitted within an eight kilometre perimeter of Spanish airports, according to radio network Cadena SER. Fines for breaking these rules can run as high as €225,000.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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