Flights were halted at the British Gatwick airport since Wednesday evening following repeated reports that groups of drones flew too close near the airport. Airplanes that were already on the runway had to stay on the tarmac and incoming flights were moved to other airports.
Thursday morning around 03.00 local times, air traffic control released the airspace. Three-quarters of an hour later it was closed again because new reports of drone sightings arrived.
According to the website Flightradar24, more than fifty flights were diverted in the first part of the night alone. They had to move to airports all over Great Britain, but also to Amsterdam, Paris and Bordeaux.
Gatwick announced that the runway had reopened at about 3am on Thursday – but 45 minutes later it was closed again. It said: “Following reports of two drones flying over the Gatwick airport airfield at around 9pm, the airfield was closed from 21:03 on Wednesday 19 December to 03:01 on Thursday 20 December.”
“Unfortunately a further sighting of drones in the vicinity of the airport has forced the runway to be closed again from 03:45 as we investigate the sighting alongside Sussex police.
“We will update when we have suitable reassurance that it is appropriate to reopen the runway.”
Gatwick, some 40 miles outside of London, is the busiest airport in Britain with 45 million passengers a year after Heathrow. The airport warned that air traffic will probably still be affected during the day on Thursday and advises passengers to check their flight status before coming to the airport.
Latest reports from Gatwick show that this morning, the number of delays and cancellations indeed continues.
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