After almost two hours, air traffic was resumed but not before hundreds of travellers had their journeys disrupted.
During a period of two hours at least 22 flights were diverted, at least six to Valencia, three to Barcelona, three to Zaragoza, and two to Alicante and Valladolid, while only those running low on fuel were allowed to land.
All flights from the airport were suspended between 12.30 and 2.30pm.
Spain's Air Traffic Contollors confirmed that all four runways were now operational in a tweet at about 2.30pm but warned it would take a few hours for air traffic to return to normal.
“Operating four runways in #Madrid Barajas after drone indentified near the runways. It will take a few hours to regain full normalcy since a good number of flights have been delayed and diverted to alternative airports. Patience. #SafetyFirst”
Operación ya con 4 pistas en #Madrid Barajas tras notificación de dron en inmediaciones de las pistas. Llevará unas horas recuperar la completa normalidad ya que un buen número de vuelos se han visto retrasados y desviados a aeropuertos alternativos. Paciencia. #SafetyFirst pic.twitter.com/JUWZONvXw2
— Controladores Aéreos ?? (@controladores) February 3, 2020
Spain’s Transport Ministry made the decision shortly after 12.30 to close the airspace after several pilots reported seeing drones flying nearby.
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) February 3, 2020
Spain's State Air Safety Agecy (AESA) confirmed in a tweet that “flying drones in the vicinity of an airport is a serious infraction that comes with a penalty fine of up to €90,000”.
Antes de volar tu dron debes saber cómo y dónde usarlo https://t.co/Nb6fSVuwS3
¡¡Los drones no son Juguetes!! https://t.co/S5Hu3hv3NS
— Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (AESA) (@AesaSpain) February 3, 2020
Air traffic at the airport had already suffered delays after an early morning fog.