This is only the beginning of the airport drone menace.
London’s Gatwick Airport took strides toward running a full schedule Saturday as police questioned a man and a woman in connection with the drone intrusions that caused mayhem for tens of thousands of holiday travelers.
Police said Saturday the suspects are a 47-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman from Crawley, which is roughly five miles (eight kilometers) from the airport. They were arrested on suspicion of disrupting civil aviation in a way likely to endanger people or operations.
The airport’s arrival and departure boards showed the busy airport inching towards normal but still showing an unusual number of delayed takeoffs and landings.
In a statement, Britain’s second-biggest airport said it is operational but urged passengers, many of whom have been stranded since the drone incursions began on Wednesday evening, to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.
“Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption and are advised to check with their airline before travelling to the airport,” a Gatwick spokesman said.
Airport officials say the aim is to run a full complement of 757 flights on Saturday with just under 125,000 passengers.
There have been no new drone sightings since police arrested two people late Friday night in connection with criminal use of drones.
New drone sightings Friday evening had caused fresh problems for holiday travelers at the airport, which reopened in the morning after a 36-hour shutdown only to hastily suspend flights for more than an hour in the late afternoon on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Officials said extra military capabilities allowed flights to resume after the halt.
The hope is that the airport can make up much of the backlog and get passengers where they hope to be for Christmas now that Sussex police have arrested two suspects. Those arrested have not been named and have not been charged. Police did not say where the arrests that took place late Friday were made.
“Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones by deploying a range of tactics,” said Superintendent James Collis.
“We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice.”
The persistent drone crisis at Gatwick, located 30 miles (45 kilometers) south of London and which serves 43 million passengers a year, has had ripple effects throughout the international air travel system.
Photo credit: Passengers at Gatwick airport wait for their flights following the delays and cancellations brought on by drone sightings near the airfield, in London, Friday Dec. 21, 2018. John Stillwell / Associated Press