NEWS
22/12/2018 07:57 GMT | Updated 22/12/2018 19:51 GMT

Police Search House After Two People Arrested Over Gatwick Drone Chaos

The detached property in Sussex

Police are searching a detached house after a man and woman were arrested in connection with the “criminal use of drones” which caused widespread disruption at Gatwick Airport.

The 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman, from Crawley in West Sussex, were arrested in the town – around five miles from the airport – at about 10pm on Friday.

Sussex Police said the pair are being held on suspicion of “disrupting services of civil aviation aerodrome to endanger or likely to endanger safety of operations or persons”.

Officers were stationed outside a house in Auckland Close on Saturday evening.

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Officers outside the house in Auckland Close

More than 100,000 passengers were left stranded at the UK’s second biggest airport after flights were grounded following a number of drone sightings near the airfield from Wednesday night.

The airport fully reopened on Friday, with police saying “proactive investigations” were ongoing.

Superintendent James Collis of Sussex Police said: “Our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones, by deploying a range of tactics,” he said.

“We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice.

“The arrests we have made are a result of our determination to keep the public safe from harm. Every line of inquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers.”

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A Gatwick Airport spokesman said on Saturday morning its runway was open and it was aiming to operate a full flight schedule.

But passengers were urged to check with their airline before travelling, with long queues and some knock-on delays remaining at the airport as airlines worked to clear a backlog of flights.

“Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption and are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport,” the spokesman said.

“Safety is Gatwick’s top priority and we are grateful for passengers’ continued patience as we work to get them to their final destination in time for Christmas.”

On Saturday, the queue for check-ins stretched the length of the departures hall - while a heavy stream of passengers poured through the arrivals gates as a full schedule of flights operated.

In the departures line was the Shorrock family, from Oxford, who were flying to Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps for a skiing trip.

Vivienne Shorrock was “relieved” to have avoided the drone disruption, while David Shorrock joked: “They should’ve got some farmers here. They would’ve soon sorted it out.

“You get 100 young farmers here with a flagon of cider. Free cider for anyone who shoots the drone.”

Flights were briefly grounded at the airport on Friday evening after a fresh sighting at around 5.10pm, but military measures reassured operators it was safe to reopen the runway shortly afterwards.

Despite flights resuming after 70 minutes, airlines were still cancelling and delaying outbound flights into Friday night.

Inbound flights were also operating with delays, with some scheduled to arrive at Gatwick in the early hours of Saturday.

Military equipment was used on Friday to stop further drone disruption while a range of tactics are in place if any unmanned aircraft are seen inside the perimeter.

Speaking on Friday, chief executive of the airport Stewart Wingate said the drone flights were “highly targeted” and have “been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas”.

He added: “It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way.

“This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again.”