Flights at London’s Gatwick airport remained suspended early on Thursday, five hours after the UK’s second-busiest airport halted them to investigate reports of two drones flying over its airfield, inconveniencing passengers days before the Christmas holiday period.
Planes were unable to depart, while a number of flights scheduled to land were diverted to other airports, Gatwick said in a statement.
Gatwick apologized on Twitter to affected passengers, adding that safety was its “foremost priority.” The airport advised people flying or collecting someone from Gatwick on Wednesday or Thursday to check the status of their flights.
An increase in near collisions by unmanned aircraft and commercial jets has fueled safety concerns in the aviation industry in recent years.
In Britain, the number of near misses between private drones and aircraft more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, with 92 incidents recorded last year, according to the UK Airprox Board.