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

Nanaimo doctors asking for donations of masks and gloves during COVID-19 fight

Nanaimo Division of Family Practice co-ordinating efforts to collect supplies

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: COVID-19 symptoms must be taken seriously

Plausible pandemic scenarios could prove catastrophic for community, says letter writer

Nanaimo MLA part of historic near-empty legislative sitting that passed COVID-19 measures

A dozen MLAs alter Employment Standards Act, approve $5-billion spending package

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Food program available for Nanaimo youths during COVID-19 pandemic

Nanaimo Youth Services Association offering food initiative on Thursdays

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam, cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo hospital staff say lives depend on stopping spread of COVID-19

President of medical staff association, chief of staff at NRGH asking for community’s best efforts

RCMP, prime minister warn of text scam related to COVID-19 relief

Text message alerts about $,1375.50 deposits should be ignored or deleted, Nanaimo RCMP say

Home-schooling about to become the rule, not the exception, in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Suspension of in-class instruction to take effect in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district March 30

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Most Read