Just in case airports weren’t busy enough around Christmas time, London’s Gatwick airport has been forced to close after an illegal drone ‘raid’ took place.
As many as 115,000 people had their flights disrupted and authorities said they could not give an indication of when the airport might reopen as of Thursday night local time, according to the BBC.
2/2 We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected, especially at this time of year. Our advice continues to be not to travel to the airport and to check with your airline on the status of your flight. pic.twitter.com/65N8Dbt1Wl
— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) December 20, 2018
“We will review overnight whether there is any potential to open tomorrow,” the airport’s Chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe told the BBC.
Local police said they had received reports of two objects above the airfield on Wednesday night, prompting authorities to ground flights. Since then, a further 50 reports of drone activity came in on Thursday evening local time.
Following reports of drones flying over @Gatwick_Airport last night the runway was closed on two separate occasions whilst investigations took place. Like other airlines, we diverted a number of flights due to land at London Gatwick to other airports across the UK. pic.twitter.com/4IR6rlz0HV
— easyJet (@easyJet) December 20, 2018
The Army has been deployed with “specialist equipment” to track down the drones but flights remain grounded.
“We believe this to be a deliberate act to disrupt the airport,” Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, the police commander for Gatwick, said in a statement, as per SMH.
“However, there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror-related.”
— Pierre-Henri Dufiet (@PHOxford) December 20, 2018
The airport is urging passengers or those due to pick up passengers not to travel to the airport without checking the status of their flight with their airline first.
“Gatwick Airport’s runway remains unavailable because of continued drone sightings and some airlines have cancelled all flights,” the airport said in a statement.
“There is significant disruption at Gatwick today as a result of what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights, and we anticipate disruption to continue into tomorrow.”
More than 20 police units are on the hunt for the perpetrator, who could be facing up to five years in jail.
Featured image credit: Tim Ireland/Associated Press