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Travellers face chaos as the drones close to London Gatwick airport


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    The arrival board at the airport of Gatwick Airport show to be cancelled, diverted and delayed flights as the airport remains closed, with incoming flights delayed or diverted to other airports, after drones were spotted over the field last night and this morning, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. The London Gatwick Airport remained closed during the busy holiday period Thursday, while the police and the airport officials to investigate reports that drones flying in the vicinity of the airport. (Thomas hornall founded/PA via AP)


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    Queues of passengers waiting at the check-in desks at Gatwick Airport, as the airport remains closed, with incoming flights delayed or diverted to other airports, after drones were spotted over the field last night and this morning, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. The London Gatwick Airport remained closed during the busy holiday period Thursday, while the police and the airport officials to investigate reports that drones flying in the vicinity of the airport. (Thomas hornall founded/PA via AP)

LONDON – Thousands of passengers were delayed, diverted, or stuck on an airplane Thursday as the only runway at the uk’s Gatwick Airport remained closed a second day after the drones were spotted over the field.

The airport south of London — great Britain is the second-busiest by passengers — closed orbit Wednesday evening after two drones were spotted. It reopened briefly at about 3 pm and Thursday, but 45 minutes later, after further observations.

The airport said all incoming and outgoing flights were suspended. The passengers were advised to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport, where many slept on the floors and formed long queues at counters.

Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, said that about 10,000 people were affected by the closure on Thursday morning, including 2,000 whose planes could take off from the airport of Gatwick, 2,000 to their points of origin and 6000 diverted to other airports in the Uk and Europe.

He said drones remained Thursday morning.

“As I stand here, there is a drone on my airport as we speak,” Woodroofe told Sky News.

A police helicopter was hovering in the vicinity of the airport Thursday morning as officers from two nearby forces hunted the drone operators.

“The advice from the police is that it would be dangerous to try to shoot the drone down, because of what can happen to the stray bullets,” Woodroofe said.

A problem at Gatwick caused a domino effect throughout the Uk and mainland Europe, in particular during a holiday period when the air traffic control systems are under pressure.

Passengers complained on Twitter that their flight had landed at London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities.

A traveler whose flight was diverted tweeted that passengers were not being told when they could go to their destination.

Gatwick, about 30 miles (45 kilometres) south of London, sees more than 43 million passengers per year to the short – and long-haul destinations and serves as a major hub for the budget airline easyJet.

Gatwick is working normally in the night, but the number of flights is limited due to noise restrictions. The airport website says it usually handles 18 to 20 flights, overnight accommodation during the winter months.

Gatwick said in a statement that they apologized for the inconvenience, but had safety on the first place.

Gatwick airport briefly closed his job last year, when a drone was spotted in the area.

Pilots have reported numerous near-misses with drones in the past few years in great Britain and the aviation authorities have warned that there is a growing risk that a midair collision could lead to a major disaster.

The strong sales of small consumer drones have led to repeated warnings about a possible threat to commercial aviation.

Fly a drone near an airport, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

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