Gatwick flights suspended after drone reports

Flights at Gatwick Airport were delayed for hours. Photo: Getty Images
Flights at Gatwick Airport were delayed for hours. Photo: Getty Images

Flights at London's Gatwick airport had to be suspended for hours after the UK'S second-busiest airport halted them to investigate reports of two drones flying over its airfield, inconveniencing passengers days before the Christmas holiday period.

Planes were unable to depart late on Wednesday and early Thursday, while a number of flights scheduled to land were diverted to other airports, Gatwick said in a statement.

Gatwick apologised on Twitter to affected passengers, adding that safety was its "foremost priority". The airport advised people to check the status of their flights.

An increase in near-collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets has fuelled safety concerns in the aviation industry in recent years.

In Britain, the number of near-misses between private drones and aircraft more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the UK Airprox Board.

There were multiple reports of drone sightings since the initial report of two drones at 9.03pm (GMT) on Wednesday, Gatwick said.

The airport is investigating the situation with police.

Gatwick is 50km south of London and competes with Europe's busiest airport, Heathrow, 32km west of London.

"Our airlines are working to provide affected passengers with hotel accommodation or transport passengers landing at other airports to Gatwick by other means, and Gatwick staff are looking after passengers in our terminals", the airport said.

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