Gatwick Airport has closed its runway and suspended all flights until further notice after drones were sighted near the hub.
Operations were impacted from 9:00pm on Wednesday (December 19) when two drones were seen flying nearby. The runway was briefly opened at 3:00am, but was closed again just 45 minutes later after further drone sightings. Another drone was spotted just before 7:00am today (December 20) and police are still looking for the drone operator.
It is illegal to fly a drone within 1km (0.6 miles) of an airport.
Around 10,000 passengers have been impacted so far, with flights redirected to airports as far as Amsterdam. Around 110,000 passengers on 760 flights expected to either take off or land at the hub today, and the runway is expected to stay closed until at least 11:00am.
Tara Craig, who is at Gatwick Airport awaiting her flight to Santa Cruz de la Palma, said, “The airport is packed, with passengers sitting – even sleeping – where they can. The food outlets are busy, but seem to be coping well.
“We heard after 9:00am that the airport is still closed to flights. Passengers remain remarkably cheerful but the departures board for updates are not encouraging. As of 9.30am, no flights are expected to take off before 11am and passengers on a number of flights have been advised to go to their airline desk.”
EasyJet has also advised passengers whose flights have been cancelled to stay away from the airport.