A “minor technical fault” forced a British Airways Boeing 747 flying to Hong Kong to return to Heathrow.

The aircraft with 298 passengers on board landed at 9.15pm last night after being redirected.

A spokesman for National Air Traffic Services told the BBC that the flight crew relayed that the aircraft had a problem retracting its undercarriage.

He said time was spent in the air to make sure the aircraft was a safe weight for landing. He added that such redirections are “not uncommon”.

The aircraft was examined by engineers and the flight rescheduled for today.

A BA spokesman said passengers had been offered hotel accommodation.

He apologised for the inconvenience and said the cause of the fault had not been established.

Passenger Ashley Steel told the BBC: “They spotted very quickly that the plane had a technical issue.

“We flew over the sea for 90 minutes dropping fuel prior to returning.

“Really the whole thing felt like a detour – it was really well handled by the staff. Most people on the plane are happy to be back on land.”