Ten thousand passengers have suffered flight chaos after the runway at Gatwick Airport was closed due to drones being flown nearby.
Flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow have been affected as a result of the drone activity, leaving thousands stranded and stuck in long queues for hours.
As an alternative, London North Eastern Railway is offering free rail travel between London and Edinburgh in a bid to get people home for Christmas.
A Twitter post from the rail firm said: “Has your flight between London #GatwickAirport and Edinburgh been cancelled today? If so, you can use your flight tickets to travel on our trains today for FREE. #HomeforChristmas”
In the latest statement on the incident, a Gatwick spokeswoman said: “Flights to and from Gatwick Airport remain suspended following reports of drones flying over Gatwick’s airfield last night and in the early hours of this morning.
“We are advising passengers scheduled to fly from Gatwick not to travel to the airport without checking the status of their flight with their airline this morning. We apologise for the inconvenience, but the safety of all passengers and staff is our first priority.”
Flights in and out of the UK’s second busiest airport were suspended at about 9pm on Wednesday after two of the devices were seen near the West Sussex airfield.
Gatwick announced the runway had reopened at about 3am on Thursday, but 45 minutes later it was shut again after a further sighting of drones.
Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s chief operating officer, said drones had been spotted over the airport as late as 7am on Thursday.
He blasted the “irresponsible” act, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that 10,000 people had been affected by the closure, including 2,000 whose flights had been unable to take off.
He said two drones had been seen flying “over the perimeter fence and into where the runway operates from”.
Mr Woodroofe added that 20 police units from two forces were hunting for the pilot, saying: “The police are looking for the operator and that is the way to disable the drone.
“We also have the helicopter up in the air but the police advice is that it would be dangerous to seek to shoot the drone down because of what may happen to the stray bullets.”
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