Flights have resumed at Gatwick Airport following a cautionary closure. (AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Gatwick reopens after another drone sighting grounds flights in new nightmare for travellers
UK police say they have made two arrests in connection with criminal drone activity at Gatwick Airport.
- Sussex Police say investigations still ongoing after two arrests
- Incoming planes have had to circle over Gatwick, grounded planes were kept on the tarmac
- Gatwick — the UK’s second-biggest airport — has since reopened
In what has been a nightmare for travellers at Britain’s second-largest airport, flights were again suspended at Gatwick after reports another drone had been spotted over the airport late on Friday afternoon (local time).
“Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones, by deploying a range of tactics,” Sussex Police said in a statement.
“We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice.”
The most recent suspension of flights came after a new drone was reportedly seen at the airport, which operates 45 kilometres south of London.
Incoming planes circled over Gatwick because they could not land and outgoing planes were kept on the tarmac while the drone report was investigated.
Gatwick Airport later confirmed the runway had been reopened. A spokeswoman said the brief second shutdown was precautionary, and new measures had been put in place to ensure the safety of travellers.
The new suspected drone sighting came after British police and transport officials said extra measures had been put in place to prevent drones from intruding at the airport.
Gatwick had only just reopened about 11 hours earlier after having been shut down all day on Thursday and part of Wednesday night (local time) when authorities said drones repeatedly violated the airport perimeter, threatening the safely of incoming and outgoing planes.
The motive for the drone invasion was not clear, but British police said there were no indications it was “terror related”.
The Thursday shutdown at Gatwick threw tens of thousands of passengers into massive travel chaos, since about 110,000 people had been scheduled to pass through the airport that day, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The figure for passengers expected for Friday was even higher.
Gatwick serves more than 43 million passengers a year.
The hundreds of travellers stuck overnight at Gatwick by Thursday’s closure described freezing conditions as they slept on benches or the airport floor. Many complained they were not being kept informed about re-routed flights.
About 145 of the 837 flights at Gatwick on Friday had already been cancelled before the latest reported drone sighting, the airport said.
In the afternoon, it strongly warned passengers to “check the status of your flight with your airline before departing for the airport”.