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Photo: London Gatwick

“Emotional disaster” for passengers in airport chaos

Drones have forced London’s Gatwick Airport to ground all flights, with few planes taking off or leaving since last night.

All flights to and from London Gatwick remain suspended due to the presence of drones flying close to the busy UK airport.

Flights stopped at around 21:00 local time on Wednesday when two drones were spotted flying near the runway.

The runway reopened at around 03:00, but the airport closed it again at 03:45 when the drones were again spotted close by. Another sighting occurred at 07:00.

Disruption is likely to last at least another 24 hours, the Guardian newspaper reports.

“Flights to and from Gatwick remain suspended, due to drone activity,” the airport said. “Please do not travel to the airport without checking with your airline first. We’re sorry for the inconvenience today, but the safety of our passengers and staff is our number one priority.”

Some flights have been diverted to other UK airports as well as Paris and Amsterdam, while others have simply been cancelled.

More than 10,000 passengers have been affected so far. On a typical Thursday at Gatwick, there are around 110,000 passengers on 760 flights.

easyJet, Gatwick’s largest airline, commented: “We have offered affected passengers who were diverted ground transportation to reach Gatwick, and hotel accommodation was provided. Passengers who arranged their own transportation will be reimbursed by easyJet.”

Misery on the floor
Chris Woodroofe, the airport’s chief operating officer, has apologised to passengers, adding that the drones cannot be shot down due to the risk of stray bullets.

Meanwhile, passengers are enduring misery on the airport floor. A mother told the Press Association that she suffered an “emotional disaster” after spending the night on a cold floor with her daughter, aged 8, and her son, aged 3.

Another passenger, Rebecca Dahl, 20, from Copenhagen, has been waiting in the Norwegian queue for three hours, telling the BBC: “I’m hoping there’s an earlier flight because I have no place to stay and I don’t have any money.”

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