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Gatwick flights resume; UK police question 2 drone suspects


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    A plane is going to land at Gatwick Airport, England, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. Flights resume at London’s Gatwick Airport on Friday morning after drones led to the closure of the airport for more than 24 hours, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded or delayed during the busy holidays.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)


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    Passengers at Gatwick airport waiting for their flight after the delays and cancellations caused by drone sightings near the airport, in London, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. New drone sightings Friday, causing fresh chaos for holidaymakers at the London Gatwick Airport. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

LONDON – London’s Gatwick Airport, was plagued by long lines and flight delays on Saturday, but no new drone sightings, which the British officials hoped that the worse was over after two people were arrested in connection with the drone invasion that had ended the country’s second busiest airport.

Check-in lines at the airport of Gatwick stretched the length of the departure hall as hurried travelers tried to make good on Christmas plans upended by the three days of the extended stops caused by drones being spotted all over the field.

The persistent drone crisis at Gatwick, 30 miles (45 kilometres) south of London, has a domino effect in the international air travel system since Wednesday night, when the first drone was spotted.

A Gatwick spokesman said Saturday that “things are going in the right direction” and should be back to normal for the end of the weekend after a terrible few days that saw tens of thousands of passengers are stranded or delayed.

Sussex police released few details about the two suspects arrested late Friday in the worst drone caused travel chaos hit Britain. The police says the investigation is ongoing, and the army was deployed to prevent further drone attacks to exclude Gatwick airspace.

Police said Saturday that the drone suspects, a 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman from Crawley, a village 5 miles (8 km) from the airport. They were arrested on suspicion of disrupting civil aviation.

The defendants, who are not called or charged, were being questioned in custody. Sky television showed images of the police searching a house where allegedly a suspect lived.

The british police have not said if they believe the two suspects acted alone or as part of a larger group. The motive for their aggressive drone flights, has not been determined, but officials say that there are no indications it is “terrorist related.” There are no new drone sightings since the arrests.

Gatwick arrival and departure boards showed that most of the flights on that Saturday, but there were still a significant number of delayed takeoffs and landings. In all, the airport was hoping to run 757 flights, where something less than 125,000 passengers.

Still, Gatwick authorities urged passengers to check the status of their flight on Saturday with their airlines before heading to the airport, which cares for 43 million passengers per year.

“Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover from our activities after three days of interruption,” a Gatwick spokesperson.

New drone sightings Friday evening, causing fresh problems for holidaymakers at the airport of Gatwick, which had just opened in the morning after a 36-hour shutdown. Authorities then had to hastily suspend flights for more than an hour Friday afternoon on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Officials said additional military capabilities allowed flights to resume Friday evening, after 70 minutes of inactivity, but does not say what the equipment is designed for the control of the drones.

“Our investigations are still ongoing, and our operations at the airport continue to build resilience is to identify and reduce further attacks of drones,” said Superintendent James Collis, who urged the public to contact the authorities immediately if they had all the relevant information about the drones.

Hundreds of people had to sleep at Gatwick on Thursday night, and many noted how freezing and uncomfortable. In response, officials said Saturday that they maintain the airport’s two main terminals are heated.

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