Gatwick Airport: Police continue hunt for drone operator

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport, photo by Eddie Mitchell
Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport, photo by Eddie Mitchell

There remains a heavy police prescence at Gatwick Airport as the drone operator who caused chaos for hundreds of thousands has still not been caught.

A combined operation of the military, Met Police and Sussex and Surrey police forces remain vigilant to mitigate any ‘further drone threats’ after the major airport was shut down for around 36 hours.

Gatwick Airport: ‘This is a highly targeted activity designed to close the airport

Sussex Police tweeted at 9.23am today (December 21): “With support from @SurreyPolice @metpoliceuk and the military we have significantly increased our presence at @Gatwick_Airport to mitigate further #drone threats.

“#GatwickAirport has now recommenced flights although this remains under constant review.”

The airport’s runway was closed from around 9pm on Wednesday evening (December 19) until 6am today due to two drones flying over the airfield.

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport last night, photo by Eddie Mitchell SUS-181221-070756001

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport last night, photo by Eddie Mitchell SUS-181221-070756001

The latest statement from Gatwick Airport, released at 9.30am today, said: “Gatwick’s runway is now available and aircraft are arriving and departing.

“There are knock-on delays and cancellations to flights and we strongly recommend that you check the status of your flight with your airline before setting out for the airport today.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley, from Sussex Police specialist crime command, said, “This is a particularly challenging situation and my heart goes out to all travellers who have been affected by this criminal behaviour.

“We are working very closely with Gatwick Airport Limited and the Civil Aviation Authority, and are in close consultation with the government and other agencies in an effort to keep people safe and to resolve this incident as swiftly as possible.

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport, photo by Eddie Mitchell SUS-181221-084418001

Armed police on scene at Gatwick Airport, photo by Eddie Mitchell SUS-181221-084418001

“In addition to the searches that are taking place on and around the airfield, we are deploying a number of tactical options to detect and counter these drone activities and bring this to a safe conclusion. Extra officers have been brought in to support the operation.

“Our assessment, based upon the information that we have available to us, is that this incident is not terrorism-related.”

Anyone with information about the incident or who may have suspicions about the drone operators is asked to report online or call 101 quoting Operation Trebor.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the airport, call 999 immediately.

According to Sussex Police, around 50 reports of a drone being spotted were made between 9.07pm on Wednesday evening and 4.25pm on Thursday (December 20).

Police said there is no evidence of an unauthorised person accessing the airfield.

The decision was made not to shoot the drones because of the risk from stray bullets.

Gatwick Airport runway reopens after drone chaos