London Gatwick Airport paralyzed by drones in “deliberate act” of disruption

©Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport has had all flight operations to and from the airport put on hold since 21:00GMT Wednesday, December 20, after what has been described as a “deliberate act” of disruption.

In all, up to 100,000 passengers are likely to be affected. The disruption began after two drones were spotted flying inside the airport’s perimeter fence and “into where the runway operates from.” There was a 45 minute respite at 3.01GMT, but “a further sighting of drones” saw the airport shut down again.

The shutdown remains in operation subsequent to the sighting of a drone at approximately 07:00GMT and additional sightings at approximately 11:00GMT. According to the airport, over 10,000 passengers were directly affected last night, while 100,000 passengers and 760 aircraft were expected to land at or take off from the airport this Thursday alone.

The drones are suspected of being “of an industrial size” owing to their seeming ability to remain airborne for considerable periods of time. Sussex Police have confirmed that this is not being looked upon as a terrorist attack. As of 13:00GMT the search was still continuing for the operator or operators of the drones.

Gatwick chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said: “The police are looking for the operator and that is the way to disable the drone,” adding that the police had not wanted to shoot the devices down because of the risk from stray bullets.

Incoming planes were diverted to other airports including London Heathrow, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow, Paris and Amsterdam.

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