Drone briefly shuts down operations at Dublin airport

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Flight operations at Dublin airport were briefly suspended on Thursday due to the confirmed sighting of a drone over the airfield, Ireland’s largest airport said, the first time such disruption has been caused at an Irish airport.

Dublin airport told passengers on its Twitter page that it had suspended operations at 1149 GMT, before resuming 15 minutes later.

The flying of drones over Britain’s second-busiest airport, London’s Gatwick, sparked 36 hours of travel chaos last December while flights at Dubai International Airport were temporarily grounded last week due to suspected drone activity.

“We apologize for any inconvenience. The safety and security of passengers is always our key priority,” Dublin airport said on Twitter.

Ireland’s transport minister called a special meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group last month to assess the incidents at UK airports involving possible drone activity and the implications for Ireland.

Drones are prohibited from operating within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of Irish airports during periods of aircraft operations, unless the operator has given permission to do so.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said last month he would take appropriate action if further steps were required to improve how the state can respond to the threat of illegal drone activity around Irish airports.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Graham Fahy; Editing by Gareth Jones