Gatwick Airport: Drone attack causes chaos

Generic drone image

London Gatwick Airport (LGW/EGKK) is expected to be closed until at least 16:00hrs today following a sustained drone attack on the airport that forced it to close its runway late last night.

Reports first emerged just late yesterday evening that a number of drones where being flown in the vicinity of the airport and the continued and seemingly coordinated presence of the drones indicates it is a deliberate act to disrupt the airports operations.

Around 60 flights have already been diverted to other airports around the UK causing chaos at one of the busiest times of the year. Flights have been diverted to airports including Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Stansted, Southend, Luton, Birmingham and Dublin.

British Airways have already cancelled 78 flights today with Easyjet also cancelling scores of flights in the wake of the attack.

In its latest statement, Gatwick Airport said “Gatwick Airport’s runway remains closed and all flights are currently suspended following reports of drones flying over Gatwick’s airfield last night and this morning. There is significant disruption at Gatwick today as a result of what appears to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.Quote Message: We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected by this, especially at such an important time of year. We are prioritising the welfare of those at the airport by deploying staff into our terminals to look after people as best we can.

“We are extremely disappointed that passengers are being affected by this, especially at such an important time of year. We are prioritising the welfare of those at the airport by deploying staff into our terminals to look after people as best we can.Quote Message: We are working hard with our airlines to get information to passengers but would advise anyone booked onto flights from Gatwick, or meeting arriving passengers, not to travel to the airport without checking the status of the flight with their airline or on our website first.

“We are working hard with our airlines to get information to passengers but would advise anyone booked onto flights from Gatwick, or meeting arriving passengers, not to travel to the airport without checking the status of the flight with their airline or on our website first.Quote Message: We apologise for the continued inconvenience, but the safety of all passengers and staff is our first priority. from Gatwick Airport Spokesperson

“We apologise for the continued inconvenience, but the safety of all passengers and staff is our first priority.”

The drone attack appears to consist of the use of multiple devices which are alternating near the airfield suggesting a well organised attack, this seems to rule out a connection to the arrest of hate group deputy leader Jayda Fransen at Gatwick Airport yesterday.

Prime candidates include direct action group, Plane Stupid, but no one has claimed responsibility for the ongoing attack. Gatwick police don’t however believe this is a terror-related incident.

In a tweet, Gatwick Police appealed for information to identify the operators, they tweeted: “#GatwickDrones We are appealing for information to help us identify the operators of the #Gatwick#drones. If you know who’s responsible or have any information please call 999 and quote ref 1350-19/12″

Flying a drone in the vicinity of an airport is a criminal offence and carries substantial penalties including up to 5 years in prison. If they are deemed to have endangered an aircraft that raises to potentially life imprisonment. Drones must not be flown within 1km of an airport or airfield perimeter.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) recently introduced Dronesafe which provides information on the safe use, and guidelines regarding the law on the use, of drones. More information can be found at https://dronesafe.uk/

Passengers due to travel today are urged to check with their airlines before going to the airport.

Known Diversion Figures

Easyjet

  • Stansted: 5
  • Luton: 5
  • Manchester: 3
  • Birmingham: 2
  • Paris CDG: 5
  • Southend: 3
  • Cardiff: 4
  • Liverpool: 3
  • Bordeaux-Mérignac: 1

British Airways

  • London Heathrow: 3
  • Amsterdam: 1
  • Cardiff: 4
  • Shannon: 2
  • Newcastle: 1
  • Stansted: 2

Norwegian

  • Paris CDG: 1
  • Paris ORLY: 3 (INC 2 WAMOS)
  • Shannon: 1
  • Doncaster: 1
  • Dublin: 2
  • Manchester: 1

TUI

  • Brest: 1
  • Bristol: 1
  • Birmingham: 1
  • Manchester: 1

Wizz Air

  • Luton: 1

Thomas Cook

  • East Midlands: 2

Virgin Atlantic

  • Heathrow: 3
  • Manchester: 1

Ryanair

  • Stansted: 2
About Nick Harding 641 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.