NEWS
21/12/2018 17:30 GMT | Updated 21/12/2018 21:46 GMT

Gatwick Drone Disruption: Flights Resume After Sighting Grounded Flights Again

Despite a confirmed sighting of a drone, airlines are reassured by military measures.

Gatwick Airport has reopened after operators were reassured that military measures now in place mean it is safe to fly despite a confirmed sighting of a drone.

Flights at Gatwick Airport had been suspended - for a second time - after another suspected drone sighting, causing more misery for passengers ahead of Christmas.

The latest sighting happened at around 5.10pm on Friday, and came after the UK’s second biggest airport re-opened earlier in day following a 32-hour shutdown, prompting the mass cancelation of flights. 

In its latest statement, Gatwick Airport said: “Flights have now resumed at Gatwick following a reported drone in the area.

“While we investigated, airfield movements were suspended. This was a precautionary measure as safety remains our main priority.

“The military measures we have in place at the airport have provided us with the reassurance necessary that it is safe to reopen our airfield.”

A spokeswoman added that it was a “confirmed sighting of a drone”.

Flights had resumed on Friday morning after at least two devices were seen hovering close to Gatwick’s runway just after 9pm on Wednesday.

Some 115,000 passengers had been impacted. 

Earlier, police hunting the drone suspect said the have a list of “persons of interest” as the search goes on.

Officers described a game of cat-and-mouse in their efforts to capture the devices, which reportedly zig-zagged across the airfield randomly.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry confirmed the last sighting of a suspect drone was at around 10pm on Thursday night.

The force had earlier requested members of the public only phone its tip-off line with information about potential suspects – after they were inundated with calls.

PA Wire/PA Images

Laura Cammarata, 27, lives in London and was due to travel to Sicily with her partner for Christmas.

She said they were booked on to a flight with Vueling on Thursday afternoon which was rescheduled for Friday, and has since been cancelled.

She said: “We did the whole process again, we got the train, we started queuing up and at some point they said it’s cancelled again.

“We’re trying to rebook and they’re saying they can’t book us on.”

Her partner Giuseppe Alia, 28, also from London, said: “They should have some contingency to get people to other airports, I understand it’s not their fault but they should force airlines to collaborate in this situation.”

The couple said the alternative flights cost “three or four times” the original £400 they paid for the flights, and they are now looking at hiring a car to drive there.

Drones are an increasing threat to aircraft in the UK.

Statistics from the UK Airprox Board showed 117 “near-misses” between drones and planes in Britain last year.

The figure is a 1200% increase on the close calls recorded in 2014.

The data includes incidents involving civilian planes, airliners and military jets.