Flights suspended at Gatwick following ‘deliberate’ drone incursion

Flights suspended at Gatwick following ‘deliberate’ drone incursion

Flights from Gatwick Airport remain suspended today after drones were seen flying over the airfield late last night.

Gatwick has branded the incident a “deliberate” attempt to disrupt flights.

The disruption comes at the start of the festive period, when the airport had expected to welcome 2.9 million passengers.

A statement from the airport at 10:50 this morning said: “Gatwick Airport’s runway remains closed and all flights are currently suspended following reports of drones flying over Gatwick’s airfield last night and this morning.

“There is significant disruption at Gatwick today as a result of what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.

“We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected by this, especially at such an important time of year.

“We are prioritising the welfare of those at the airport by deploying staff into our terminals to look after people as best we can.

“We are working hard with our airlines to get information to passengers but would advise anyone booked onto flights from Gatwick, or meeting arriving passengers, not to travel to the airport without checking the status of the flight with their airline or on our website first.”

Flights were originally suspended on Wednesday evening after two drones were seen nearby.

The incident sparked a string of delays and diversions, with arriving flights landing in Paris and Amsterdam.

Police are investigating the incident, searching for the operator of the drones.

Around 200 flights have been affected so far, along with 10,000 passengers.

In the UK, it is illegal to fly a drone within one kilometre of an airport or airfield.

easyJet said it had been forced to divert a number of flights due to land at London Gatwick to other airports across the UK.

In a statement the low-cost carrier added: “As a result of this aircraft and crew remain out of position at airports away from London Gatwick, which has resulted in a number of cancellations this morning. 

“Additionally, due to there being restrictions in place on the number of aircraft movements at Gatwick, there are further cancellations and delays today are expected to flights operating to and from London Gatwick.”

easyJet urged passengers to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

The carrier continued: “easyJet has offered affected passengers who were diverted last night ground transportations to reach London Gatwick and hotel accommodation was provided for those who required it.”

Passengers who arranged their own transportation, will be reimbursed by easyJet, the carrier advised, while customers on cancelled flights will be entitled to a free of charge transfer to an alternative flight.

Commenting on the unfolding incident, Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “This situation will understandably be frustrating for both the airlines and the tens of thousands of passengers travelling to and from Gatwick ahead of Christmas.

“While these extraordinary circumstances unfortunately mean you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be entitled to meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation or transfers.

“You don’t have to cancel your tickets though, as depending on the length of the delay, your airline should be providing you with alternative travel options or accommodation.”