A FLIGHT to Tenerife was diverted to Gatwick Airport after a bird strike.

The flight took off from Bournemouth Airport at 8.21am this morning.

A spokesman from the airport said: “On taking off from Bournemouth the Thomson flight to Tenerife experienced a bird strike.

“As a result it has been diverted to Gatwick Airport.”

The plane was seen circling over Bournemouth Airport for half an hour - which is to burn off fuel in order to allow it to land safely.

It landed at Gatwick Airport just before 10am, where it was met by emergency services on the tarmac.

According to passenger Eric Jackson, 42, who lives in Charminster in Bournemouth, there was a “loud thud” on the left hand side of the plane during take-off.

“Then there was a really loud vibrating noise through the plane and you could just tell something was wrong,” said Mr Jackson, who was travelling to Tenerife for a week-long holiday.

“The pilot came on the radio system and said there had been a bird strike and that a seagull had damaged one of the engines.”

According to Mr Jackson the plane then circled around Bournemouth for half-an-hour before heading to Gatwick.

“It was a bit worrying because we weren’t really sure what the problem was and what was going to happen. We just kept circling,” he added.

“Then when we arrived at Gatwick we were met with a dozen fire engines on the tarmac.”

Following the landing passengers waited on board the plane for almost an hour while staff attempted to determine whether the engine could be repaired.

However it was decided they be transferred to a second plane and are currently waiting in the Gatwick departures lounge for a second plane and new crew to arrive.

“We have no idea how long we are going to be here for, it sounds like ages. Just a nightmare start to the holiday really.”

Mr Jackson has also told the Echo that all passengers have been given a £10 voucher and that a replacement flight was due to leave Gatwick at 12.30pm.

A statement from the airline said: “Thomson Airways is sorry for the delay caused to passengers on board flight TOM6248 from Bournemouth to Tenerife.

“The aircraft has diverted to London Gatwick as a precautionary measure following a suspected bird strike.

“The plane landed safely and we are working to make sure that customers will be on their way to Tenerife as soon as possible.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance and we would like to reassure customers that issues of this nature are very rare.”