Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook
Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook

Couple arrested for ruining Christmas

LONDON'S Gatwick Airport was plagued by long lines and flight delays after two people were arrested in connection with the drone invasion that had shut down the country's second-busiest airport.

The first pictures of the middle-aged couple arrested over the Gatwick drone chaos that potentially ruined Christmas for thousands of stranded passengers have also emerged.

Elaine Kirk, 54, and Paul Gait, 47, from Crawley, were named locally as the two people currently being questioned by police.

Stunned locals today told how police raided their home last night.

Mr Gait's boss told The Telegraph how the window fitter and drone enthusiast was working when the attacks took place.

John Allard, who runs Allard Double Glazing, told the newspaper: "Paul normally comes in around 7.45am and I remember on those days he then worked late on site on a fitting job.

"I don't think it can be him. He was busy on site working when it was happening."

He also said Elaine had "no interest" in flying drones - but said Paul had used the machines in the past.

Locals also told how Paul had been spotted with a remote-controlled model helicopter in the area.

 

Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook
Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook

 

One said: "I saw him flying a helicopter, it was remote controlled. That was a few years ago and he recently said to me, 'I've given all that up now'."

Another revealed Paul had a remote-controlled car and a helicopter, adding: "I remember thinking 'look at that big kid with his toys!'"

There had been speculation the people behind the drone attack were "ecowarriors" possibly protesting the airport expansion.

 

Passengers queue for flights at Gatwick Airport as the airport and airlines work to clear the backlog of flights delayed by a drone incident earlier in the week, in Crawley, England. Picture: PA via AP
Passengers queue for flights at Gatwick Airport as the airport and airlines work to clear the backlog of flights delayed by a drone incident earlier in the week, in Crawley, England. Picture: PA via AP

 

Check-in lines at Gatwick stretched the length of the departures hall as harried travellers tried to make good on Christmas plans up-ended by three days of extended shutdowns caused by drones being spotted over the airfield.

The persistent drone crisis at Gatwick, 45 kilometres south of London, has had a ripple effect throughout the international air travel system since Wednesday night, when the first drone was spotted.

 

Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook
Elaine Kirk and Paul Gait who were arrested. Picture: Facebook

 

A Gatwick spokesman said Saturday that "things are going in the right direction" and should be back to normal by the end of the weekend after a horrendous few days that saw tens of thousands of travellers stranded or delayed.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and the military was still deployed to prevent further drone incursions from shutting Gatwick's airspace.

An aircraft comes in to land as the runway is reopened at Gatwick Airport. Picture: Getty
An aircraft comes in to land as the runway is reopened at Gatwick Airport. Picture: Getty

 

British police have not said if they think the two suspects acted alone or as part of a larger group.

The motive for their aggressive drone flights has not been established, but officials say there are no indications it is "terror related."

There have been no new drone sightings since the arrests. Gatwick's arrival and departure boards showed that most flights operated Saturday but there were still a significant number of delayed takeoffs and landings.

Counter drone equipment is deployed on a rooftop at Gatwick Airport in Gatwick, England. Picture: PA via AP
Counter drone equipment is deployed on a rooftop at Gatwick Airport in Gatwick, England. Picture: PA via AP

In all, the airport hoped to run 757 flights, serving just under 125,000 passengers.

Still, Gatwick authorities urged passengers to check the status of their flights Saturday with their airlines before heading to the airport, which handles 43 million passengers a year.

"Passengers should expect some delays and cancellations as we continue to recover our operations following three days of disruption," a Gatwick spokesman said.

New drone sightings Friday evening caused fresh problems for holiday travellers at Gatwick, which had just reopened in the morning after a 36-hour shutdown. Authorities then had to hastily suspend flights for more than an hour Friday afternoon on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

 

Passengers wait with their luggage in the South Terminal building at London Gatwick Airport after flights resumed today. Picture: Getty
Passengers wait with their luggage in the South Terminal building at London Gatwick Airport after flights resumed today. Picture: Getty

 

Officials said extra military capabilities allowed flights to resume Friday night after the 70-minute halt but did not say what equipment had been put in place to counteract the drones.

"Our investigations are still ongoing, and our activities at the airport continue to build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones," said Superintendent James Collis, who urged the public to contact authorities immediately if they had any relevant information about the drones.

Hundreds of people had to sleep at Gatwick on Thursday night, and many noted how freezing and uncomfortable it was.

Officials said Saturday they are keeping the airport's two main terminals heated.


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