Gatwick Airport runway reopens after drone chaos

Crowds at Gatwick after the airport was closed because of disruption by drones
Crowds at Gatwick after the airport was closed because of disruption by drones

Gatwick Airport runway has reopened today (December 21) after being closed for more than a day by two drones flying over the airfield.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected after the incident which began at 9pm on Wednesday evening (December 19).

Gatwick Airport: The on-going drone disruption live blog
At 6.14am today, Gatwick Airport told this newspaper the runway is available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival.

Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as departures and arrivals will be subject to delays and cancellations.

Statement from Gatwick Airport

A spokesperson said today, “Gatwick’s runway is currently available having reopened at 6am.

Photo by Jon Rigby

Photo by Jon Rigby

“A limited number of aircraft are taking off and landing at Gatwick this morning but our departures and arrivals rate is currently very restricted to just a few runway movements every hour so passengers must expect delays and cancellations again today.

“Gatwick continues to strongly advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport.

“Overnight we have been able to work with partners, including Government agencies and the Military to put measures in place which have provided the confidence we needed to re-open the runway and ensure the safety of passengers, which remains our priority.

“We continue to provide welfare and information to all disrupted passengers who are at the airport and have had teams in throughout the night.

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport last night, photo by Eddie Mitchell

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport last night, photo by Eddie Mitchell

“Our priority today is to get our operation back on track so that people can be where they need to be for Christmas, and we will update as more information becomes available throughout the day.”

Police operation

Meanwhile, police continue an operation to locate the operator of the drones which brought the airport to a standstill for more than 24 hours.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley, from Sussex Police specialist crime command, said, “This is a particularly challenging situation and my heart goes out to all travellers who have been affected by this criminal behaviour.

“We are working very closely with Gatwick Airport Limited and the Civil Aviation Authority, and are in close consultation with the government and other agencies in an effort to keep people safe and to resolve this incident as swiftly as possible.

“In addition to the searches that are taking place on and around the airfield, we are deploying a number of tactical options to detect and counter these drone activities and bring this to a safe conclusion. Extra officers have been brought in to support the operation.

“Our assessment, based upon the information that we have available to us, is that this incident is not terrorism-related.”

Anyone with information about the incident or who may have suspicions about the drone operators is asked to report online or call 101 quoting Operation Trebor.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the airport, call 999 immediately.

According to Sussex Police, around 50 reports of a drone being spotted were made between 9.07pm on Wednesday evening and 4.25pm on Thursday (December 20).

Police said there is no evidence of an unauthorised person accessing the airfield.

The decision was made not to shoot the drones because of the risk from stray bullets.

Read more:

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