Drones sighted at London airport causes flight delays, cancellations

London's Gatwick Airport - Britain's second-busiest - reopened Friday after a 36-hour shutdown caused by drone sightings


By dpa, Hamburg, Germany

LONDON - The disruption since Wednesday affected tens of thousands of passengers and caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

Military equipment has also been deployed as part of attempts to prevent further disruption.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling told the BBC that the protective measures included "military capabilities," but did not offer details.

He said there had been around 40 drone sightings while the airport was closed.

Military experts have joined police units, including snipers and a helicopter. Police officers were also sighted on the roof of a building at the airport on Friday.

Authorities were also searching for the drone operators after the multiple drone sightings began late on Wednesday.

Flying a drone within 1 kilometre of an airport or airfield boundary was made illegal in Britain in July, but aviation officials and lawmakers have called for a 5-kilometre exclusion zone.

Although flights have resumed, the airport cautioned on its Twitter account that there were "knock-on delays and cancellations to flights."

The airport said 765 flights were scheduled for departure and arrival on Friday, while about 140 have been cancelled.

"We are now operating at almost normal runway conditions and the challenge for the airlines, as the result of this disruption, [is that] their planes are not all in the right place," Gatwick's chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said, according to the BBC.

Passengers were advised to check the status of their flight before heading off for the airport.

Low-cost airline Ryanair for instance said its planes would use London's third largest airport, Stansted. Passengers have been informed, Ryanair said.

EasyJet, another no-frills carrier, meanwhile advised passengers to check its designated flight checker app rather than tweet for flight information "due to the unprecedented volume of tweets we're receiving at the moment."

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©2018 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

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