England

Gatwick drones: Airport reopens after latest suspension

The drone was spotted shortly after 17:00 GMT Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The drone was spotted shortly after 17:00 GMT

A further drone sighting has again disrupted the UK's second biggest airport, with flights grounded and passengers unable to fly.

Aircraft were left circling above the area during the latest alert, which came at about 17:10 GMT. Flights resumed less than 90 minutes later.

A spokeswoman for the airport said the suspension was only as a precaution.

She said military measures had been put in place that meant it was safe to reopen.

Gatwick had reopened earlier on Friday, after drones flying over the airfield closed it for more than a day.

The airport was initially closed on Wednesday at about 21:30, following the first drone sighting.

The spokeswoman said the latest incident was a "confirmed sighting of a drone".

Eleven inbound flights were diverted to other airports during the latest suspension and, while outbound flights would experience a "knock-on delay", none had been cancelled, she said.

However, the BBC has been contacted by people claiming their flights were cancelled.

Police believe more than one unmanned aircraft has been used and are investigating the possibility of multiple culprits.

Earlier, officers said they had identified "persons of interest".

In a statement, police confirmed operations were suspended for safety reasons.

The force said: "Sussex Police is supporting the airport and is proactively deploying significant resources to seek and locate the drone and its operator and to ensure the safety of the travelling public and all those in and around the airport."

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Media captionTom Symonds reports on the measures police appear to be taking to catch the Gatwick drone

'Very disruptive'

Passengers have hit out at the people behind the disruption.

One woman, called Poppy Smithers, hoping to fly to Doha and then Auckland, said it was "very disruptive, kind of selfish".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Airport chiefs said 120,000 people due to arrive or fly had not been able to travel since Wednesday

Newlywed Emily Pointer had just arrived at the airport to go on honeymoon in Argentina. She and her husband Charlie Woodall had expected to fly out at 21:30.

"It's a little bit heartbreaking, really, because we've been looking forward to this for a long time," she told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It doesn't sound too promising right now," she said.

Image caption Nikkita Sartori-Sigrist and Oliver Vaff were flying to Cologne

Nikkita Sartori-Sigrist, 24, and Oliver Vaff, 22, from Loughton, Essex, were stranded on the runway on a grounded BA flight to Cologne.

They were due to take off when the captain announced there had been another sighting, they said.

The pair were heading to Cologne to visit the Christmas Market and then fly back on Christmas Eve.

"We've been planning it for a really long time and don't want to miss it but now I'm worried if we go we might not come back," Ms Sartori-Sigrist said.

Ravi Bhatnagar, 47, from Hastings, said it will be at least a week before he and his partner can travel to Alicante after their 17:45 Easyjet flight from Gatwick was cancelled.

"There's nothing for three days so it's Christmas in London for us," he said.

Image copyright Eddie mitchell
Image caption Sussex Police were called in after a further drone was seen

During disruption on Thursday, 760 flights had been due to arrive or depart from the airport but all were grounded.

On Friday, 155 flights were cancelled.

Gatwick's chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said on Friday morning, that 120,000 passengers due to arrive or fly had not travelled since Wednesday night.

Image copyright Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Image caption Flights resumed earlier but passengers still had to wait

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