A waiting passenger sleeps at Gatwick Airport in England, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

London’s Gatwick Airport resumes flights after 24-hour drone chaos

Flights resumed at London’s Gatwick Airport Friday morning after drones sparked the shutdown of the airfield for more than 24 hours.

Flights resumed at London’s Gatwick Airport on Friday morning after drones sparked about 36 hours of travel chaos including the shutdown of the airfield, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded or delayed during the busy holiday season.

The airport said in a statement that Gatwick’s runway is “now available and aircraft are arriving and departing.

“We are, however, expecting knock-on delays and cancellations to flights,” it said. “If you are due to travel from Gatwick today, we strongly recommend that you check the status of your flight with your airline before departing for the airport.”

The prospect of a deadly collision between what police described as industrial-grade drones and an airliner led authorities to stop all flights in and out of Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport by passenger numbers, on Thursday. The drones were first spotted Wednesday evening.

The Gatwick statement suggests authorities are concerned the drones may be seen again, which would likely lead to a fresh closure of the runway. There were repeated sightings Thursday, and authorities decided any flight operations would be unsafe.

The British military has been aiding police and aviation authorities in the search for the culprit or culprits behind the drone intrusion, which police said was designed to cause maximum disruption over the holiday period.

The airport, about 30 miles (45 kilometres) south of central London, sees more than 43 million passengers a year. About 110,000 had been scheduled to pass through on Thursday, one of the busiest days of the year.

The runway closure has had a spillover impact on the international air travel system, and thousands of passengers remain short of their destinations.

Many holiday plans were disrupted and travellers stuck at Gatwick described freezing conditions as hundreds slept on benches and floors. Many passengers and their families complained they weren’t being kept informed about re-routed flights.

Authorities haven’t released details about the drones being used except to characterize them as meeting “industrial specifications.”

The motive for the drone use isn’t clear. Police say there is no indication it is “terror related.”

Read more: Bali flights resume, but volcanic ash still disrupts travel

Read more: Drone flying near Kelowna airport prompts police warning

___

Frank Griffiths contributed to this report.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni answers questions about COVID-19

Radio show will feature Mayor Sharie Minions and Dr. Paul Hasselback

Deadline passes for ‘unattractive’ Port Alberni building

Squash and Billiards Club on Third Avenue has been under construction for several years

Teachers in Port Alberni show the love for their students

Virtual message meant to give families hope in uncertain times

Port Alberni’s Judy Plater works magic with a chainsaw

Bald eagle carving unveiled at Alberni Valley Golf Club

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

Most Read