Gatwick drones: Two arrested over flight disruption

Gatwick drone police
The airport was forced to shut its runway for spells on Wednesday and Friday and for all of Thursday. (Image: Eddie Mitchell)

Two people have been arrested in connection with a string of drone sightings that brought Gatwick Airport to a standstill.

A 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, from Crawley, were arrested in the town at about 22:00 GMT on Friday.

Flights had been grounded for more than a day, affecting about 140,000 passengers, after drones were seen near the runway.

The airport has since reopened and flights are operating on schedule.

Sussex Police said it was continuing to investigate the “criminal use of drones” and appealed for information.

The airport said it aimed to run “a full schedule” of 757 flights on Saturday, carrying 124,484 passengers.

But a spokesman added: “Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption.”

They also urged passengers to check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport.

Supt James Collis said officers remained at Gatwick, ready to “detect and mitigate” further drone flights by deploying a range of tactics.

He asked passengers and people living nearby to remain vigilant and report any suspicions.

“Every line of inquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers,” he added.

Gatwick reopened on Friday morning, although the runway was closed again for a short time after a further confirmed drone sighting at 17:10.

A spokeswoman for the airport said military measures put in place at the airfield made it safe to reopen.

Eleven inbound flights were diverted to other airports during the latest suspension and, while outbound flights would experience a “knock-on delay”, none had been cancelled, she said.

However, the BBC has been contacted by people claiming their flights were cancelled.

A small number of flights due to arrive into Gatwick on Saturday were cancelled, according to the airport’s website.

They include an Easyjet service from Milan and a TUI flight from Barbados.

A Gatwick spokesman said: “Safety is Gatwick’s top priority and we are grateful for passengers’ continued patience as we work to get them to their final destination in time for Christmas.”

Ben Schofield, BBC News at Gatwick Airport

Passengers are flowing reasonably well through the South Terminal.

Coming in through arrivals, it’s a different story. Passengers are talking of delays of many hours involving road and ferry diversions.

More than 1,000 flights were cancelled or diverted during the 36 hours of disruption and that knock-on effect is still being felt.

Gatwick disruption
The disruption lasted well into Friday evening

 

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

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