Europe

Gatwick airport reopens after drone chaos

Flights were halted on Wednesday night after two drones were spotted near the airfield. (AAP)

Gatwick Airport says its runway has reopened and a limited number of flights are resuming after drones caused flight cancellations and travel chaos.

Britain's Gatwick Airport has reopened after a rogue drone saboteur wrought travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of Christmas travellers by playing cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army.

After the biggest disruption at Gatwick, Britain's second busiest, since a volcanic ash cloud in 2010, Gatwick said its runway was open and that a limited number of aircraft were scheduled for departure and arrival on Friday.

"Gatwick continues to advise passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport as departures and arrivals will be subject to delays and cancellations."

Britain called in the military and police snipers to hunt down the drone and its operator who flew what is thought to be an industrial style drone near the airport every time it tried to reopen.

Flights were halted on Wednesday night after two drones were spotted near the airfield.

It is illegal to fly drones within 1km of a British airport boundary, punishable by five years in prison.

With a surge in public enthusiasm for drones, there has been an increase in near-collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets in recent years.

The number of near misses between private drones and aircraft in Britain more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the UK Airprox Board regulator.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch