Thousands of passengers are in limbo with the runway at Gatwick remaining closed on Thursday after reports of drones flying close to the airport.
The deliberate nature of the disruption is likely to spark fears it is a coordinated attack on Britain's second-busiest airport.
Flights in and out of the airport were suspended at about 9 pm on Wednesday after two drones were sighted near the airfield.
Gatwick announced that the runway had reopened at about 3 am on Thursday - but just 45 minutes later it was shut again.
The airport's chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe admitted it could take days to recover services, warning those responsible they could face five years in jail.
He blasted the "irresponsible" act, saying that up to 110,000 passengers could be affected by the mayhem caused by the drones.