"So I've got officers not only in the terminals and on the air fields looking for the drone and the drone operator, but I've got resources from Surrey and Sussex right the way across sort of the outside of Gatwick trying to identify who's operating this drone. It's been going on for 10 hours now."
2. Aerial of grounded planes at Gatwick Airport
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick Chief Operating Officer:
"And once they find them then they'll bring them to justice which is five years imprisonment for endangering an aircraft. Each time we are getting ready to reopen the runway there's another drone sighting. And what I can't do is put the safety of our passengers at risk, and so the airport remains closed. I'd like to reiterate that apology I made earlier, I'm terribly sorry for all the passengers whose journeys are being disrupted."
5. Aerial of grounded planes
6. Pan of passenger's line inside the airport
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Stranded passenger (no name available):
"The flight left 15 minutes late, taxied out towards the runway. And then it just stopped. And it was stopped for, I suppose, 20 minutes so that everybody was wondering what was going on. And they said there was a lockdown on the airport. And there we stood for four hours."
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Stranded passenger (no name available):
"We got a text from Norwegian Airlines saying that our flight has been cancelled. So we all went downstairs hoping to get some news, hung around for an hour or so, and then they told us to go to a gate and reclaim our baggage, and go home basically."
"It does look like this is intentional, given the fact that the drones came and came again. But I do think it's too early to say on that. The priority is opening the airport safely and I know that the police will investigate thoroughly once that's done."
Tens of thousands of passengers were delayed, diverted or stuck on planes Thursday as the only runway at Britain's Gatwick Airport remained closed into a second day after drones were spotted over the airfield.
Police said the drone flights that caused the disruption were a "deliberate act to disrupt the airfield."
The airport south of London - Britain's second-busiest by passenger numbers - closed its runway Wednesday evening after two drones were spotted.
It reopened briefly at about 3 a.m. Thursday, but shut 45 minutes later after further sighting and remained closed at midday - 15 hours after the first sighting.
Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick's chief operating officer, said sightings of at least one drone were continuing.
"Each time we are getting ready to reopen the runway there is another drone sighting," Woodroofe told British broadcaster Sky News.
"What I cannot do is put the safety of our passengers at risk, so the airport remains closed," he added.
He said the vast majority of the 110,000 passengers due to pass through Gatwick on Thursday - one of the busiest travel days of the year - would experience disruption.
All incoming and outgoing flights were suspended, and the airport's two terminals were jammed with thousands of weary travelers, many of whom had spent the night on benches and floors.
A police helicopter was hovering near the airfield as officers from two nearby forces hunted the drone operators.
Gatwick, about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south of London, sees more than 43 million passengers a year to short- and long-haul destinations and serves as a major hub for the budget carrier EasyJet.
Any problem at Gatwick causes a ripple effect throughout Britain and continental Europe, particularly during a holiday period when air traffic control systems are under strain.
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