All flights to and from London Gatwick airport are currently suspended while authorities investigate reports of drones flying close to the airfield.
The sighting of drones began last night around 9pm after which the airport was closed the first time and since then the drones periodically re-appeared causing major disruptions, affecting as many as 10,000 passengers.
Police is investigating this as a deliberate action to shut down the airport and the “pilots” of the drone will be facing severe punishment when caught.
According to this article by The Telegraph the activity started last night and since then the drones have re-appeared multiple times causing the closing of the runways and helicopters were dispatched to chase down the machines.
Thousands of passengers are in limbo with the runway at Gatwick remaining closed on Thursday morning after reports of drones flying close to the airport.
The seemingly deliberate nature of the disruption is likely to spark fears it is a coordinated attack on Britain’s second-busiest airport.
Flights in and out of the airport were suspended at about 9pm on Wednesday after two drones were sighted near the airfield. Gatwick announced that the runway had reopened at about 3am on Thursday – but just 45 minutes later it was shut again.
The airport’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe admitted it could take days to recover services, warning those responsible they could face five years in jail. …
He said there were two drones which had been seen flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from”.
Mr Woodroofe said: “They disappeared and reappeared over the night period from 9pm until 3am, at which point we reopened the runway.
“That lasted 45 minutes before the drones reappeared again and we are currently closed and it is our intention to review the situation when we have daylight at 8am.”
Mr Woodroofe added that the drones had sparked “very significant disruption for passengers” but that police did not want to shoot them down because of the risk from stray bullets. …
Sussex Police has published this Tweet seeking information about the incident:
British Airways has also posted a travel notice on their website informing passengers of the closure at Gatwick Airport. BA operates a substantial amount of flights from Gatwick and most (if not all) of these city pairs aren’t duplicates so there is very little chance BA could rebook these customers to flights ex LHR/LCY.
Meanwhile tensions are running high with those passengers trapped at Gatwick Airport, either in the terminal or – especially – on board the planes sitting on the tarmac:
It appears that the passengers patience is seriously reaching a boiling point when people are going crazy like this. Definitely not a great idea to declare oneself a terrorist in order to get off the plane.
As if travel during December wasn’t already busy enough with weather disruptions, strikes and the Christmas season being traditionally one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. Now whoever these idiots are cause further chaos with their toys.
A few months ago I wrote a Whine Wednesday article about the drone flying and how it has affected tourist destinations to the point of where large signs are being put up, explicitly prohibiting the use of drones in certain areas. Especially at holiday resorts such as in Bali it has become an extreme annoyance and three weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur a drone was suddenly circling the rooftop swimming pool at the aloft hotel on the 31st floor.