London’s Gatwick Airport remains at a standstill and travellers are in disarray after drone sightings over the airfield sparked mass flight cancellations.
BBC reports the major airport was first made aware of the two drones around 9pm Wednesday, prompting officials to close Gatwick’s sole runway as a precautionary measure.
The drones vanished and flights resumed early on Thursday morning, but further sightings once again restricted flights to and from the airport.
The runway remains closed at time of writing, causing chaos for travellers looking to make a move during the busy festive season.
Flights bound for Gatwick have been diverted to airports including Heathrow, Manchester, and even Paris, while travellers scheduled to depart from Gatwick have scrambled for flights at other UK airports.
In a statement, Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said “until we are confident that the issue has been resolved it would clearly not be in the interests of passengers to do so as we could be jeopardising their safety.”
Authorities do not believe the drone sightings are terror-related, but it is super illegal to fly drones that close to airports.
An estimated 110,000 passengers were scheduled to depart or arrive at Gatwick on Thursday, and images posted on social media shows many of them waiting for news on their flights.
View this post on Instagram
Today I fly out of Gatwick. But, all the runways are closed and no flights are leaving. Guess I’m going to have to stay in this zoo all day and pray that they reopen before Christmas! Lines for coffee/food are about 400m long. #????????♀️ #drones #gatwick #gatwickairport #delays #zoo #???? #awfulday #traveling #airportmess #london
Flight from Kiev to #Gatwick was due to land last night at 21.45. We landed in Birmingham airport. Now almost 4am, still on the plane, no food or updates from our crew. Not allowed to disembark. Bodies sleeping on every seat and across the floors. ????????????❤️✈️ #GatwickAirport pic.twitter.com/nBrPquEGFM— Christopher Lister (@Listy_cl) December 20, 2018
Despite the Ministry of Defence mobilising specialist units to deal with the drones, authorities have been unable to stop them from entering Gatwick’s airspace.
The perpetrators of the incident are yet to be found.
“It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way,” Wingate said.
“This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again.”
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