Relief for Gatwick passengers as flights return after drone ‘chaos’

Gatwick Airport, Travel, Drones

Passengers breathed a sigh of relief at Gatwick Airport as flights resumed after a rogue drone caused travel “chaos” over three days.

But long queues and some knock-on delays remained at the airport on Saturday as airlines worked to clear a backlog of flights.

“Many people will be due to fly today and there will be longer delays perhaps,” a Gatwick spokesman said.

“But broadly things are going in the right direction. By the end of the weekend, things should be back to normal.”

On Saturday, the queue for check-ins stretched the length of the departures hall – while a heavy stream of passengers poured through the arrivals gates as a full schedule of flights operated.

In the departures line was the Shorrock family, from Oxford, who were flying to Innsbruck in the Austrian Alps for a skiing trip.

Vivienne Shorrock was “relieved” to have avoided the drone disruption as she was worried the family’s non-refundable holiday would go to waste.

“But then we thought well it’s a middle class problem isn’t it. Oh no, we can’t go on a skiing holiday,” she said.

“In perspective some people have suffered real losses by not getting where they want to go to be with family.”

David Shorrock joked the drone drama was a “nice distraction from Brexit” before offering a novel solution to the problem.

“They should’ve got some farmers here. They would’ve soon sorted  it out,” he said.

“You get 100 young farmers here with a flagon of cider. Free cider for anyone who shoots the drone.”

At the height of the disruption, many passengers had to spend the night at the airport, where staff provided free water, blankets and food.

“We made sure the heating was on all night in the terminals, and made sure the shops were all open 24 hours,” a spokesman said.

Two people were arrested in connection with the “criminal use of drones”, police said in the early hours of Saturday.

About 1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers were disrupted by the persistent drone activity between Wednesday and Friday.

A full schedule of more than 750 services was planned on Saturday at the world’s second-busiest single-runway airport.