Inbound flights were diverted to airports as far away as Paris and outbound flights were grounded from 9 p.m. Wednesday to around 3 a.m. Thursday. The airfield, about 25 miles south of central London, reopened briefly, but the authorities shut it down again at 3:45 a.m. after a drone was spotted again. Ten thousand passengers were affected. Passengers complained on Twitter that their flights had landed at London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities. Other flights were sent to France and the Netherlands. “…We apologise to any affected passengers for this inconvenience but the safety of our passengers and all staff is our foremost priority,” the official Gatwick Airport Twitter account wrote.
After worldwide reports about drone’s role in causing airline disruptions, British statistics have shown a steady increase of drone sightings near airports in recent years. Drones are potentially capable of causing much more serious damage to aircrafts in flight than birds. Flying a drone within a kilometer of an airport is illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison in Britain.