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Updated: 14.01 GMT, 20/12/2018
Gatwick, London’s busiest airport is experiencing severe delays after two drones were spotted flying over the airfield. Incoming flights have been redirected with some planes landing in Paris, Amsterdam, London Heathrow, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff and all outbound flights have been grounded.
Despite it being illegal to fly a drone within 1km of an airport or airfield, the drones were spotted yesterday just after 9:00pm GMT. The runway was reopened at 3:00am GMT but had to close shortly after following further sightings of the drones. A further drone sighting occurred today at around 12:00 GMT. Gatwick is working closely with Sussex Police as it is believed this is a deliberate act of disruption.
Tens of thousands of passengers have been affected with large crowds of people waiting inside the terminals for updates. Airlines are working hard to provide passengers with hotel accommodation and organise transport for those passengers that have landed at alternative airports.
It has been reported that 760 flights were due to depart from or arrive to Gatwick today carrying around 110,000 passengers.
The airport has taken to Twitter to express their apologies and to keep passengers updated with any progress. All passengers due to travel to the airport, or pick people up, are being advised to check the status of their flight before heading off.
Passengers who were checked-in on time and are now experiencing delays may be entitled to compensation via their travel insurance. Under most policies, if a flight is delayed for 12 hours or more you may be able to claim a set figure for each hour you are delayed up to a total limit. For example, if you have been delayed for 12 hours you can claim £10.00 for every 12 hours you are delayed up to a total of £150.00. Some policies will offer a higher amount of compensation starting at a shorted delay period so this is something to check.
With many people due to fly home or visit family for Christmas the delays at Gatwick have caused ample disappointed and frustration. Despite comments from the public and affected passengers to ‘shoot down the drones’, police do not wish to do so due to the risk of stray bullets. It is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an airport and if caught, the operator/s of the drones could face up to five years in prison.