Gatwick drone chaos: What we know so far

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Flights have resumed at Gatwick Airport after a shutdown caused chaos for passengers. Here is everything we know so far:

– The disruption began at about 9pm on Wednesday December 19 when the airport reported that flights had been suspended. At the time, Gatwick said reports had been received of two drones flying close to the airfield.

– The runway was briefly reopened in the early hours of Thursday before further drone sightings forced it to close again.

The runway at Gatwick airport
The runway at Gatwick Airport was first closed on Wednesday night (Pete Summers/PA)

– The airport’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, said 120,000 passengers’ flights had been disrupted by the incident.

– Many inbound flights were diverted to other airports, including as far away as Amsterdam and Paris.

– On Thursday morning, police said the flying of drones in the area was “a deliberate act to disrupt the airport”, but added that there was no evidence to suggest it was terror-related.

– Officers were working on the assumption the drone had been modified, and were looking through CCTV to identify the make and model.

Sussex Police Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley
Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said Sussex Police were following up a ‘number of persons on interest’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

– Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley, of Sussex Police, said the force was following up a “number of persons of interest” in their investigations. According to reports, one line of inquiry was that a lone wolf eco-warrior was behind the incident.

– Shooting down the drone was being considered as a “tactical option” after other strategies failed.

– On Thursday night, police said there had been more than 50 sightings of the drone in the 24 hours from when the runway was first closed.

– Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said night-flight restrictions would be lifted at other airports so that “more planes can get into and out of the country”.

– At just after 6.30am on Friday, Gatwick Airport said the runway had reopened for a “limited number” of flights, with the first plane departing at 6.33am on its way to Lapland.

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