*** UPDATE 12/24 ****: According to new reports, two suspects were arrested, released and exonerated after the UK’s 2nd largest airport grounded all flights because of alleged “drone sightings”. Since the shutdown on 12/20, local police have admitted that “there may in fact not have been any drones at all” and that “investigators are no closer to knowing what actually took place.”
Gatwick Airport, a major international airport near Crawley in West Sussex, southeast England, has suspended all flights and closed all runways following reports of drones flying over Gatwick’s airfield last night and this morning.
The shutdown was caused when two drones were spotted flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from” just after 21:00 on Wednesday. The runway briefly reopened at 03:01 on Thursday but closed 45 minutes later after another drone sighting was reported. At around 12:00, the airport announced the third sighting in the last hour.
According to the airport, these sightings appear to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights, and they anticipate disruption to continue throughout the day and into tomorrow.
On the airport’s website, Gatwick states, “We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected by this especially at such an important time of year. We are prioritising the welfare of those at the airport by deploying staff into our terminals to look after people as best we can. We are working with our airlines to get information to passengers and our airlines are working to provide affected passengers with hotel accommodation or transport passengers landing at other airports to Gatwick by other means. Once again, we apologise to our passengers for the continued disruption. Safety is our absolute priority.”
Tens of thousands of passengers have already been disrupted by drones flying over one of the UK’s busiest airports. If you are due to fly today or are meeting someone from a flight, please do not travel to the airport without checking the status of your flight with your airline first.
For more information on this story, and to check flight status, please visit www.gatwickairport.com