Gatwick CEO warns drone disruption “cannot happen again”
Image credit: reuters
The CEO of Gatwick has said that yesterday’s disruption “cannot happen again” and called for the Government to come up with the “right solutions” to prevent drones flying into airports in future.
Gatwick’s main runway was closed for hours yesterday after two drones were found flying nearby. Thousands of passengers are still facing disruption today as services struggle to catch up with the cancellations.
More than 600 flights were ultimately cancelled and the travel plans of more than 110,000 people were affected.
Authorities suggested the activity was deliberate and the drones were “industrial” models.
Stewart Wingate, London Gatwick CEO, said it “cannot be right” that a major international airport could be targeted in this way.
He said: “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.
“This is a highly targeted activity which has been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
“Although not for today, these events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed - the aviation industry, government and all the other relevant authorities.
“It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way.
“This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again.”
Police, with the assistance of the military, are hunting for the devices and those controlling them, but the Gatwick runway has now reopened to flights.
He added: “In the meantime, all our focus is on sorting the current challenge and getting services back to normal for passengers.”
In September the Home Office began consulting on proposals to bolster stop and search powers to allow police to be more rigorous in dealing with people who intend to use drones for illegal or disruptive purposes in the UK.