Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Questions must be answered as airport drone chaos adds to woes of thousands trying to get home for family celebrations

Passengers at Gatwick airport waiting for their flights following the delays and cancellations brought on by drone sightings near the airfield
Passengers at Gatwick airport waiting for their flights following the delays and cancellations brought on by drone sightings near the airfield

The traditional rush home for Christmas involving thousands of travellers can be difficult enough, but incredibly, a small drone has created chaos at Gatwick Airport in the last couple of days. Gatwick was opened again for most of yesterday, then closed for a short period around tea-time and then re-opened again.

We can only imagine the frustration and disappointment of travellers left stranded.

In today's paper we have stories of those who have made it back to share their Christmas with loved ones, but at Gatwick there have been many tales of despair from those who made nightmare journeys home, were left stranded for hours or are still trying to get back.

Apparently the drone was operated by an individual or individuals and most people will be asking what one earth would motivate anyone to undertake such malicious and cruel behaviour.

We still don't know whether this is the work of a mischief-maker, a political or environmental protest or something more sinister. Whatever the motive, the authorities are rightly taking it very seriously, but what assurances are there that no other airports will be affected in this way?

While Government ministers and travel and law-enforcing experts are making security the paramount consideration, there is something embarrassing in the fact that such an easily acquired device as a drone can literally paralyse a major airport for days on end.

The pictures of snipers apparently powerless to end this anti-social behaviour does not give confidence to the travelling public and others watching these distressing events unfold.

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We all complain about the delay in many aspects of air travel, though we accept that security and other checks are necessary. Nevertheless, it is a sad and bitter irony that a mere drone can cause such mayhem.

This latest example of what can go wrong inevitably makes us realise that travelling by air comes at a price and that often this is not just in terms of money. Reliable, smooth and trouble free air journeys nowadays are almost priceless.

Belfast Telegraph

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