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EasyJet puts £15m cost on Gatwick drone chaos in December



EasyJet has said the flight chaos at Gatwick caused by drone sightings ahead of Christmas cost it £15m.

The no-frills carrier said welfare costs topped £10m for 82,000 customers affected by 400 flight cancellations at the height of the disruption.

It added that the cost of cancelling the services and lost sales would hit first quarter revenues by £5m.

Almost 1,000 flights in total were axed across 19 and 20 December at the start of the festive season getaway – ruining the travel plans of thousands.

Flights are landing and taking off at the airport
An easyJet flight arrives at Gatwick after the runway is reopened

Police blamed the forced closure of the airport on “numerous instances” of illegal drone activity in and around the perimeter.

Their inquiry is continuing. A couple arrested in the early stages of the investigation were released without charge.

The couple arrested and then cleared by police over the drone disruption at Gatwick airport say they feel "completely violated"


Gatwick drone arrest couple feel ‘completely violated’

EasyJet outlined the impact on its business in a trading statement which remained largely positive – the company saying bookings remained “encouraging” despite uncertainty over Brexit.

It reported revenues in the three months to 31 December of almost £1.3bn – a rise of 13.7% on the same period in 2017.

Passenger numbers were 15% up at 21.6 million despite capacity being hit by the drone issue.

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Chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said the group “did everything we could to help our customers affected by the incident”.

He added: “There has been be a one-off cost impact from this incident, but underlying cost progress is in line with expectations.

“I am proud of the way our teams worked around the clock to mitigate the impact of the incident and looked after affected customers.”

The chaos has prompted other airports, including Heathrow, to also reexamine their defences against drone operation and there have been a number of further scares.

Another major risk for the airline sector remains the UK’s departure from the EU.

Those with particular exposure to EU travel, including easyJet and Ryanair, have been scrambling to shield themselves from the potential for disruption in the event of a ‘no-deal’ scenario clouding the current open skies arrangement.

EasyJet said on Tuesday: “easyJet is well prepared for Brexit. It now has 130 aircraft registered in Austria and has made good progress in ensuring it has a spare parts pool in the EU27 and in transferring crew licences, both of which will be completed by 29 March.”

It added: “Despite the consumer and economic uncertainty created by Brexit, demand currently remains solid and forward bookings for the period after 29th March are robust.”

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