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Photo: easyJet

Gatwick drone chaos cost easyJet €17mn

Last month’s drone incident at the London airport cost easyJet dearly, but despite this and Brexit demand is still “robust”.

Disruption to flights caused by sightings of a drone at London’s Gatwick Airport last month – the operator of which has not been caught – cost the budget carrier easyJet about £15 million (€17 million).

The airline says it paid out £10 million in “customer welfare costs”, while losing a further £5 million in revenues because of flight cancellations, the BBC reports.

More than 400 flights were cancelled during the incident and the travel plans of around 82,000 easyJet customers were affected.

Overall, the Gatwick drone incident, in which 67 drone sightings were reported, hit 140,000 travellers.

More than 800 additional police shifts were worked, and more than 100 homes were visited, during the ensuing investigation. Two people were arrested but later released with no charges brought against them.

Revenues at easyJet increased by 13.7% to £1.3 billion for its first quarter up to December 31. This follows a solid full-year result posted in November. Passenger numbers rose 15.1% to 21.6 million, while the capacity increase was “slightly lower than originally planned” due to the drone chaos and because of late deliveries of new Airbus A321 aircraft.

Low-cost contrast
A few days ago, low-cost rival Ryanair cut its profit forecast, blaming lower-than-expected air fares. In contrast, easyJet claims that demand is “robust”.

“EasyJet has made a good start to the 2019 financial year with robust customer demand and ancillary sales, driving solid revenue generation,” Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, said.

“This was underpinned by good operating and on-time performance across the network, with the exception of the disruption caused by the Gatwick closures due to drone sightings.”

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.”

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