The second busiest airport in the United Kingdom remains shut down early Thursday morning after all flights were halted due to reports of two drones flying above the airfield.
This article reflects an ongoing event and will be updated as more information becomes available.
The high demand for and easy availability of small recreational unmanned aircraft over the past few years has led to an increase in near-misses and dangerous situations involving these consumer drones and commercial airliners. While strong legislation is being debated and put in place worldwide, including a law passed in Britain this past July making it illegal to fly a drone within 1 km of an airport, it is difficult to police these devices. Now, reports of two drones being flown over London Gatwick airport have resulted in major disruptions in the travel plans of thousands of delayed passengers, as all flights have been grounded.
Inbound flights were diverted to nearby airports, including Stansted, Luton, Heathrow, Manchester, and Birmingham. The chaos has rippled from England to other European countries as flights have also been rerouted to Amsterdam, Paris, and Bordeaux.
Runways were reopened at 3:01 AM Thursday morning, approximately six hours after the initial closure, but were shut down again shortly after, as further drone sightings were reported. The airport remains closed at this time. Gatwick Airport has advised travelers to check their flight status for all flights scheduled to arrive or depart on Thursday December 20. Local police and aviation authorities continue to investigate this event.
Lead image via Pexels.
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