Flights have resumed at Heathrow Airport and passengers have been told that "things are starting to move", according to Reuters. The news arrives an hour after fresh drone sightings temporarily grounded all flights, causing passengers to vent their frustration on social media.
"We've been sitting on the runway at Heathrow for like an hour and a half," one person said. "They've only given us one update to say it was because of drone activity in departures," adding that they have not been given an estimate to when they can depart.
We’ve been sitting on the runway at Heathrow for like an hour and a half. They’ve only given us one update to say it was because of drone activity in departures.— Cassandra Fairbanks ✌️ (@CassandraRules) January 8, 2019
ITV Granada journalist Sarah Rogers tweeted that her flight to Manchester had been grounded and that a police investigation was underway.
Sitting on The runway at London’s #Heathrow Airport has been closed due to drone activity. The control tower has no idea when will be allowed to depart.
— Planet Ponzi (@PlanetPonzi) January 8, 2019
— AJ (@AJ15770863) January 8, 2019
Heathrow staff are working with the Metropolitan Police and all flights have been grounded "as a precaution", an airport spokesperson said.
We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety. As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) January 8, 2019
UK transport minister Chris Grayling tweeted that military personnel and anti-drone technology would be deployed if necessary.
Chris Grayling: “We are in contact with @HeathrowAirport concerning the drone sighting. I have already spoken to both the Home Secretary and Defence Secretary and the military are preparing to deploy the equipment used at Gatwick at Heathrow quickly should it prove necessary.”— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) January 8, 2019
The news comes weeks after drone sightings were reported between December 19 to 21 at Gatwick, the UK's second-busiest airport, amid holiday chaos just before Christmas. Drones were reportedly spotted at the airport 67 times and authorities detained and released two suspects following investigations.
Gatwick and Heathrow officials have pledge to invest in anti-drone technology, with Mr. Grayling urging Parliament on Monday to extend drone exclusion zones near UK airports. Exclusion zones are currently one kilometre around airports and will be extended to five kilometres.
Mr. Grayling called December disruptions at Gatwick "deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal".
Police could also fine drone users up to £100 for failing to comply with authorities or present registration to operate a drone.