London’s Gatwick airport reopens after drone saboteur sows chaos

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LONDON: London’s Gatwick Airport reopened yesterday after a saboteur wrought 36 hours of travel chaos for over a hundred thousand Christmas travellers by using a drone to play cat-and-mouse with police snipers and the army.

After the biggest disruption at Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport, since a volcanic ash cloud in 2010, Gatwick said 700 planes were due to take off on Friday, although there would still be delays and cancellations.

Britain deployed unidentified military technology to guard the airport against what Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said were thought to be several drones.

Grayling said there was not yet “a straightforward commercial, off-the-shelf solution that automatically solves all problems.”

There was mystery over the motivation of the drone operator, or operators, and police said there was nothing to suggest the crippling of one of Europe’s busiest airports was a terrorist attack.

Gatwick’s drone nightmare is thought to be the most disruptive yet at a major airport and indicates a new vulnerability that will be scrutinised by security forces and airport operators across the world.

The army and police snipers were called in to hunt down the drones, thought to be industrial style craft, which flew near the airport every time it tried to reopen on Thursday. —Agencies

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