There might never have been drone activity over Gatwick Airport, the police have said.

Flights were suspended for more than 36 hours when a device was reported to have been seen close to the runway on Wednesday night.

But Sussex Police are keeping an open mind in the investigation and said there might 'not have been any genuine drone activity in the first place'.

Paul Gait, 47, and Elaine Kirk-Gait, 54, were released without charge this morning after being arrested at their Crawley home, near the airport, on Friday.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said: "We are also going through many reports of sightings of drone activity over the last few days. 

"We are meticulously going through that information to see if that produces any other further lines of inquiry, and also where we may focus our efforts in terms of house-to-house inquiries, CCTV footage, and any other information that will help us work through this investigation."

Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley (Image: PA)

Mr Tingley said there is no available footage of the drones and police are relying on witness accounts.

He added there was "always a possibility that there may not have been any genuine drone activity in the first place", but they were working on a range of information from members of the public, police officers and staff working at Gatwick who had reported otherwise.

He said the force had received more than 67 calls from members of the public, airport staff and police officers stationed at the airport and detectives were working to determine whether they were confirmed.

Mr Tingley assured members of the public that the specialist measures, including those provided by the military, would remain in place until it was deemed appropriate for efforts to be scaled back.

A drone and an aircraft (stock photo) (Image: PA)
(Image: PA)

"I'm confident we will get more information we will respond to, then we will progress an enquiry in order to identify the perpetrator," he said.

A damaged drone found close to the airport on Saturday was being forensically examined, the force added.

Mr Tingley said the arrests made on Friday night were as a result of a tip-off from a member of the public.

"I'm completely satisfied the arrests were lawful, bearing in mind the burden of proof and likely suspicion at the time of arrest," he said.

Passengers wait around in the South Terminal building at Gatwick Airport (Image: REUTERS)

"Obviously we had to be sure prior to release, in terms of that investigation, they were no longer suspects."

Mr Tingley continued: "I won't apologise, but what I will say is we really do appreciate their co-operation and we have put a lot of effort and resources into supporting them when they were released from questioning."

Gatwick Airport Limited has now offered a £50,000 reward through Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for disrupting flights.

More than 140,000 people had flights cancelled in and out of Gatwick Airport (Image: Peter Nicholls/Reuters)
(Image: PA)

About 1,000 aircraft were either cancelled or diverted, affecting about 140,000 passengers, during three days of disruption.

Labour has called for an independent inquiry after accusing the Government of failing to act on the risks posed by drones at Gatwick.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claimed there were missed opportunities to prevent the airport from coming under such an attack.

But a Department for Transport spokesman dismissed the claims as "a combination of nonsense and gross misrepresentation".