Chief Operating Officer at Gatwick Airport Chris Woodroofe has said that Gatwick airport will take “several days” to recover after all flights were grounded following sightings of a drone.
Mr Woodroofe told talkRADIO: “An event of this magnitude is going to take several days to address.”
He added: “This is a deliberate act by a perpetrator who has sought to generate a huge amount of disruption and that is exactly what has happened today.
“There are 110,000 passengers who are due to fly through Gatwick airport today and all of their flights are going to be disrupted. There were 10,000 yesterday whose journeys were disrupted.
“It is hugely disappointing, particularly at this time of year, that all those passengers’ journeys have been disrupted. I would just like to apologise to all of them.
“A number of them are on site and we are providing welfare, and we have said that before four there will be no flights. So, do not come to the airport.
“Check with your airline website but do not come to the airport because we are not open.”
'Only one or two drones'
Mr Woodroofe said that they believed there were only “one or two” drones.
“We believe there are only one or two drones but the reality is that there is a one kilometre ban of drones around an airport,” he said.
“Once you have had that breached it is not safe to operate your airport so we have been closed since nine last night.”
Flights have been disrupted since Wednesday night when the first drone sighting took place.
'Safety is paramount'
Juliet Parker, Surrey Police’s Head of Roads and Policing in Surrey and Sussex told talkRADIO that it was not currently being linked to terrorism.
“We are not linking this to terrorism at the moment, just to reassure the public,” she said.
“But, we are working really hard to try and find out who is behind this and bring this to a close so that people can go about their day and get flying out of the country.
“This is not a petty crime, they have committed a number of offences and most importantly put people’s lives in danger, which for me is wholly unacceptable.
“This is what I joined the police to do – to protect people – so we are going to do everything we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
She added that they understood it was “a difficult day” for those stranded, but “safety is paramount”.
“It is a difficult day especially for those that are stuck at the airport but obviously, there has been an incident where a number of drones have been spotted,” she said.
“We are trying to resolve this and work very closely with Gatwick to resolve it. We have a number of resources committed to this. Public safety is absolutely paramount here and that is at the forefront of everything we are doing. We are obviously trying to find who is responsible and bring them to justice.”