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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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London Gatwick reopens following drone sighting

More delays have been experienced.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated Dec 21st 2018, 6:48 PM

FLIGHTS RESUMED AT London Gatwick despite a confirmed drone sighting briefly bringing the runway to a standstill, the airport said.

“The military measures we have in place at the airport have provided us with the reassurance necessary that it is safe to reopen our airfield,” Gatwick Airport said in a statement this evening. 

Drones were first sighted hovering around Britain’s second-busiest air hub on Wednesday, grinding the runway to a standstill and causing chaos for more than 120,000 people.

Flights had resumed earlier today after military resources were brought in — but were halted again following a new suspected sighting at 5.10pm.

“We have currently suspended airfield operations as a precaution due to a suspected drone sighting,” a Gatwick spokeswoman said.

Police are still hunting for the drone operator or operators.

At the start of the day, a Gatwick spokesman said that 91 of Friday’s 412 scheduled arrivals had been cancelled, while 64 of 371 scheduled departures had also been scrapped.

Passengers, many trying to get home for Christmas or to start their holidays, were advised to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

Gatwick’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe earlier told BBC radio that the airport was only able to reopen its sole runway due to the “additional mitigating measures” provided by government agencies and the military.

The army was called in on Thursday to offer support, with the defence ministry deploying what was described only as specialist equipment.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC that “military capabilities were being deployed”.

“There are a range of measures which are there today which should give passengers confidence that they are safe to fly,” he said earlier Friday when the runway was open.

Government officials held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the situation.

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