LONDON: Tens of thousands of passengers were delayed, diverted or stuck on planes as the only runway at Britain’s Gatwick Airport remained closed after drones were spotted over the airfield.
The airport south of London — Britain’s second-busiest by passenger numbers — closed its runway on Wednesday evening after two drones were spotted.
However, paralyzed for more than two days after dozens of drone sightings, the airport said it planned to reopen Friday for a “limited number” of flights.
“Gatwick’s runway is currently available and a limited number of aircraft are scheduled for departure and arrival,” the airport said on Twitter. It advised passengers to check the status of their flights before traveling to the airport.
But police have still yet to find the operator of the drones and the airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program me that the runway would close again if there was another sighting.
There have been more than 50 sightings of the device since 9pm (2100GMT) on Wednesday and shooting down the drone is now an option, Jason Tingley of Sussex Police earlier told reporters.
“We will do what we can to take that drone out of the sky and remove that disruption so we can get Gatwick back to normal,” he said.
“One of the options is to use firearms officers if that presents itself – they have been out on the ground today (Thursday) and that’s a consideration and a tactical option that’s open to us.”
British Airways confirmed on Twitter that it had received confirmation “advising the airport is back open and the majority of flights operating as scheduled”. Around 120,000 passengers have had their flights cancelled during the chaos.