An airliner without hot sandwiches was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off from Gatwick.

EasyJet flight 6427 declared an emergency over Sussex just minutes after it took off from the airport, at around 4,000 feet due to a technical issue, according to airline controllers.

The plane u-turned and circled over the county before touching down once again at Gatwick 38 minutes after takeoff.

The Argus: Dubrovnik AirportDubrovnik Airport (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Airbus A320 was on its way to Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia with up to 235 passengers en route to the holiday destination at 8.10am on Friday.

But at 8.28pm the pilots of the flight declared an emergency while flying over Horsted Keynes and returned to Gatwick.

Air traffic control was made aware of the plane's emergency by using the squawk code 7700. This code lets controllers on the ground know the plane is experiencing a problem and needs to land quickly.

This can range from engine failure and fuel problems to medical emergencies.

The aircraft turned around over Crowborough before making the approach to runway 26L at Gatwick by 8.50pm, returning to stand 170.

Flight tracking software ADSBexchange captured the incident as it unfolded, showing the aircraft circling over the region earlier this morning.

The Argus: The flight's routeThe flight's route (Image: ADSBexchange)

But the travel chaos started before the flight even took off. EasyJet warned passengers that its flight attendants would not be able to serve "hot sandwiches" onboard via its flight tracking page at 2am.

A spokesman said at the time: "We'll still have a selection of snacks as well as hot and cold drinks on board. We're sorry for the inconvenience."

The airport descended into chaos earlier this morning as the North Terminal was evacuated while fire engines swarmed the building.

Passengers were evacuated and firefighters were spotted climbing escalators as the fire alarm sounded.

Sunseekers and travellers onboard EasyJet flight 6427 are scheduled to take off again later today.

Guidance on EasyJet's website suggests that passengers delayed by more than two hours are entitled to a £3 refreshment voucher.