Northern Ireland news

Gatwick drone delays: Northern Ireland air passengers face major disruption

Passengers flying in and out of Gatwick Airport have faced massive delays 
By Mairead Holland

Northern Ireland passengers flying in and out of Gatwick found themselves caught up in the 'journey from hell' yesterday after the airport was closed due to drones over the runway.

Darren Brown, who works in Brighton, was due to fly home to Northern Ireland for Christmas on an early morning flight, and was originally told he would be delayed by just a few hours.

However, as his dad Michael told U105 radio station, Darren was later informed that the next available flight wouldn't be until Christmas Eve - and even that wasn't guaranteed.

Online enquiries also confirmed that flights to Belfast from other airports could cost as much as £350.

"He is resilient," said dad Michael. "He's going to head to London and then up to get the Stranraer boat so hopefully he will be home about 11pm tonight.

"You look at the flights in advance to get them home and it's the premium time of the year so you pay a reasonable premium price... Whether they are three or 30, you like to have them home for Christmas."

Meanwhile, Kathryn Wilson and her family from Northern Ireland were intending to travel to Barbados for Christmas and were facing a long wait at Gatwick.

She said passengers were lying on the ground in the terminal and that a lot of staff didn't seem to know what was going on.

One woman in England who had been expecting to welcome her parents-in-law to meet their grandson for the first time tweeted that they were "stuck in Athens with just an ever increasing delay. The drone pilots have made this overtired woman very angry".

And a New York woman living in Yorkshire was hoping against hope that her flight would get off the ground last night and that she would get home for Christmas as planned."Come on Santa I need a Christmas miracle," she tweeted.

The runway reopened for a limited number of flights at 6am this morning.

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