The second busiest airport in the UK was shut down due to drones flying over the runway and stranded passengers probably won't get any compensation

  • London‘s Gatwick Airport was shut down on Wednesday after two drones were spotted flying over the runway.
  • Gatwick is expected to remain closed until 10 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Travellers affected by prolonged delays or cancellations may be eligible for up to €600 in compensation per European law.
  • But according to AirHelp, passengers stranded at Gatwick will likely not be eligible because the drone incursion is beyond the airline’s control and are considered extraordinary circumstances.

On Wednesday, London’s Gatwick Airport was shut down after two drones were spotted flying over the runway.

The UK’s second busiest airport, located 40 miles south of London, has been shut down since 9 p.m. Wednesday evening and remains closed. Sharpshooters and the British military have, thus far, been unable to hunt down the operator and disable the drones.

Gatwick is expected to remain closed until 10 p.m. on Thursday with more than 400 flights canceled as a result.

Based on European law EC261, passengers affected by lengthy delays or cancellations caused by the airline’s doing are eligible compensation of up to €600.

However, according to the flight compensation experts at AirHelp, passengers stuck at Gatwick will probably not be eligible.

“Unfortunately, passengers are not entitled to compensation for delays caused by the drone strikes at Gatwick Airport, because these are beyond the airlines’ control as they are ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ and the airport was closed due to a decision by air traffic control,” Christian Nielsen, AirHelp’s chief legal officer, told Business Insider in a statement.

“Under European law EC 261, airlines are obligated to compensate passengers for cancellations and lengthy delays that they are responsible for, but since the drones are posing a safety issue, the airlines are not liable here,” Nielsen went on to say.

Read more: An analyst explains the greatest risks to UK airlines if a Brexit deal falls apart.

However, travellers even in such extreme circumstances are entitled to certain accommodations.

“Travellers are entitled to the ‘right to care’ and may be eligible for meals and refreshments during the delay, access to communications, including two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, and emails, and a hotel room with transportation to and from the hotel if overnight accommodations are necessary,” Nielsen said. “With mass disruptions like this, the airline or airport may not have the capacity to find you a hotel on your own, so you can book it yourself and claim the expenses later on.”

David Slotnick contributed to this story.

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