'Mitigating measures' allow Gatwick to reopen even as drone operator at large - COO

A police helicopter flies over the closed runway at Gatwick Airport after drones flying illegally over the airfield forced the closure of the airport, in Gatwick, Britain, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Police and the army have put in place “mitigating measures” to allow Gatwick Airport to reopen and prevent drones from interfering with operations, its chief operating officer said on Friday.

Chris Woodroofe said police had not found those responsible yet and refused to say whether the new measures included a plan to shoot any drones out of the sky. He added that just under 700 departures were planned for Friday.

Britain on Thursday called in the military and police snipers to hunt down the operators of drones that repeatedly flew near to Britain’s second-largest airport, causing 36 hours of travel chaos after all flights were grounded.

“We have been working overnight with the police, with a number of government agencies and with the military to put in place additional mitigating measures which have enabled me to reopen our airport,” Woodroofe told BBC radio.

Reporting by Kate Holton and Alistair Smout