UK’s Gatwick runway opens after drone chaos

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London, Dec 21 (IANS) The Gatwick runway in the UK reopened on Friday after a drone caused the airport to shut down for more than a day, the airport authorities said.

The runway was “currently available” and a limited number of aircraft were scheduled for departure and arrival, it added.

Police have so far failed to locate the device or its pilot, but are considering plans to shoot it down, the BBC reported.

Passengers have complained of “freezing” temperatures in the south terminal, while others found themselves stuck abroad after inbound flights were either cancelled or diverted.

Dozens of passengers contacted the BBC to say uncertainty had led them to ditch their festive travel plans or spend extra money on new flights and hotel stays.

Budget airline Ryanair said it was switching all of its Gatwick flights to operate in and out of Stansted airport on Friday.

Easyjet said it would resume services but expected departures and landings to be restricted at first.

Thousands of passengers had been stranded at the airport as police continue their search for the operator of the drone on Wednesday and Thursday.

Flights were brought to a standstill after a drone was seen over the airfield first on Wednesday.

Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as departures and arrivals were subject to delays and cancellations, the BBC said.

Gatwick’s bosses have urged those due to travel to check their flight status before turning up at the airport.

Speaking on Thursday, Gatwick’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Woodroofe said 120,000 people had been due to fly out since the runway closed.

The staff were working on contingency plans in the event of flights being grounded again, he said.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the government was doing “everything we can to make arrangements with other airports”.

Among the measures was the lifting of night-flight restrictions so that “more planes can get into and out of the country”, he said.

–IANS

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