Gatwick Flights Resume After Drone Sightings, But Disruptions Continue

Gatwick Shutdown
A woman waits in the departures area at Gatwick airport, near London, as the airport remains closed after drones were spotted over the airfield last night and this morning. // Photo by AP Photo/Tim Ireland via Newscred

Gatwick Airport’s runway has reopened, but officials are warning of continued flight delays and disruptions after a series of drone sightings starting Wednesday evening forced the airport to shut down, stranding thousands of travelers at the start of a busy holiday travel season. 

According to the latest statement from the airport, the runway is now available and aircraft are arriving and departing. Due to continued delays and cancellations, however, passengers are strongly advised to double-check the status of their flight with their airline before leaving for the airport. 

“On behalf of everyone at Gatwick I would like to repeat how sorry we are for the inconvenience this criminal behaviour has caused passengers and we share their real anger and frustration that it has happened,” Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said in a statement released Thursday evening. “This is a highly targeted activity which has been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas. We are working very closely with the police and the security services to try to resolve this for passengers.”

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The Gatwick Express train to the airport is advising travelers that it will honor tickets to and from Gatwick Airport for travel to and from Luton Airport at no extra cost. Additionally, tickets to Gatwick Airport will be accepted on Southwestern Rail services to Southampton Airport. For those who cannot travel, the train will refund their ticket with no administration fee. Tickets dated for December 20 will be valid for travel December 21, and tickets dated December 21 will be valid December 22, including pre-booked advance tickets on GTR services only. If a customer’s ticket is valid on another network, Gatwick Express said it will change the ticket and waive any administration fee. 

Low-cost carrier easyJet, which operates through Gatwick, reports that it is attempting to operate as many flights as possible, but that runway movements are restricted to a limited number per hour, meaning that flight disruptions will continue. 

“Whilst we are operating as many flights as possible, we continue to advise all customers flying to and from London Gatwick today to check the status of their flight on our Flight Tracker or via the app, before coming to the airport,” the airline said in a written statement. “Customers on cancelled flights are entitled to a free of charge transfer to an alternative flight and hotel accommodation if required. We will also reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred by passengers who arrange their own comparable alternative transport.”

British Airways is offering customers due to travel December 21 a range of rebooking and refunding options. Travelers can log in to their booking for the latest options. Those with cancelled flights will be able to claim an alternative flight or a refund, the airline said. 

Ryanair reports that all of its flights scheduled to operate to and from Gatwick today will instead operate to and from London Stansted

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