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Drone overfly closes London airport

Gatwick Lane was closed again on Thursday. Thousands of passengers have delayed flights or have diverted flights to other airports.

Passengers are waiting at Gatwick Airport’s south terminal on Thursday (20) – Photo: Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Thousands of passengers are on delayed flights or have had diverted flights on Thursday after the only runway at London Gatwick airport was closed due to drone overflights.

The airport runway south of London, the second busiest in the United Kingdom, was closed on Wednesday night. It was reopened briefly around 3 am on Thursday, but closed 45 minutes later after the equipment was again observed flying near its airspace.

After launching an investigation, police said it was “a deliberate act that seeks to disrupt airport operations” but said “there is absolutely no evidence to suggest a terrorist connection.”

According to Reuters, the British army is working with the police to see if it can solve the situation.

“There are ongoing discussions with the police about any military capabilities that may be provided to assist in their operation,” said a spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense.

Passengers look at panel announcing departures from London’s Gatwick airport on Thursday (20) – Photo: Ani Kochiashvili / Reuters

Airport management said all flights were suspended. The lines at the information desks are long and many passengers have even slept on the floor. Travelers were advised to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.

Gatwick chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said 10,000 people were affected by the strike until Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press.

About 2,000 passengers would board aircraft that failed to take off from Gatwick, 2,000 could not leave their points of origin and about 6,000 passengers had their flight diverted to other airports in the United Kingdom, Paris or Amsterdam.

This balance is expected to rise sharply as more than 100,000 passengers were scheduled to fly through Gatwick on Thursday on 760 flights (between arrivals and departures).

He warned that the ripple effects on flights in terms of delays and cancellations will be felt at least in the next 24 hours. There is no deadline for flight normalization yet. At this time of year, air traffic control systems are under pressure because of the holiday season.

By Gatwick, which has connections with 228 cities in 74 countries, 45 million passengers travel annually.


British law prohibits the use of drones within 1 km of airports. The devices must also not exceed an altitude of 122 meters.

“These drones flew illegally and the law could not be clearer as it endangers the safety of aircraft and could be punished with up to five years in prison,” said Theresa May spokeswoman.

An increase in near-collision between drones and commercial airplanes has heightened safety concerns in the aviation industry in recent years, according to Reuters.

In the United Kingdom, the number of shocks avoided between private drones and aircraft more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, and 92 incidents were recorded last year, according to the British Airprox Board.

Source: [G1 Globe]

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