A drone flying close to Gatwick airport has led to the closure of a runway and at least least two flights being diverted. A spokesman for the airport said the runway was closed for two short periods of nine minutes and five minutes on Sunday evening. Gatwick said one plane had been sent to Stansted, whilst British Airways said another had gone to Bournemouth. Sussex Police are investigating the incident. Other flights had to circle above the airport as a precaution.
Britain's Gatwick airport has reopened after a rogue drone saboteur wrought travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of Christmas travellers by playing cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army. After the biggest disruption at Gatwick airport since a volcanic ash cloud in 2010, Britain's second-busiest airport said on Friday its runway was open and that a limited number of aircraft were scheduled for departure and arrival. "Gatwick's runway is currently available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival," the airport said. "Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as departures and arrivals will be subject to delays and cancellations." Gatwick said 700 planes were due to take off on Friday, although there would still be delays and cancellations.
Passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted at Gatwick owing to the closed runway are facing extra costs from rearranged flights, car parking and hotels. Although the circumstances that caused the disruption - drones flown around the runway - are unusual, there are still specific rights for air travellers. Gatwick says that passengers should not travel to the airport without checking the status of the flight with the airline first. Many airlines send out automatic alerts. There is also searchable live flight information published on the Gatwick Airport website.
EasyJet says the disruption to flights caused by the drone sightings at Gatwick airport in December has cost it about £15m. It paid out £10m in "customer welfare costs" and said it had lost £5m of revenues due to flight cancellations. EasyJet said the incident affected around 82,000 customers and led to more than 400 flights being cancelled. However, the carrier also said it had made a good start to the financial year and was "well prepared" for Brexit. Passenger numbers rose by 15% to 21.6 million for the last three months of 2018.
The United Kingdom has sent troops to its second-busiest airport after an unprecedented attempt to cripple Christmas travel with unusually large drones forced all flights to be grounded. As tens of thousands of passengers on Thursday waited at Gatwick Airport, south of the capital, London, police hunted unsuccessfully for the operators of the large drones which reappeared near the airfield every time the airport tried to reopen the runway. Police said there was no indication of a terrorism motive behind the devices, which first appeared on Wednesday night. "The assessment earlier on today was that we wouldn't be using firearms," Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said late on Thursday. "This is continually reviewed so you will know and have seen that we have firearm officers deployed."