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Aviation: easyJet loses £15m to drones

easyJet claims that the drone chaos that affected London Gatwick in the run up to Christmas cost it £15m. The budget carrier lost £5m as a result of the closure of the airport over two days, while an additional £10m was attributable to "customer welfare" costs. The airline had to cancel more than 400 flights, which affected 82,000 of its customers. The firm said last month's drone disruption at Gatwick was a "wake-up call" for airports.

Despite the dronegate-induced chaos, easyJet said there had been growth in demand for its services during its first quarter to December 31, 2018.

The drone incidents at Gatwick in December 2018 cost easyJet £15m.

CEO Johan Lundgren, said: “easyJet has made a good start to the 2019 financial year with robust customer demand and ancillary sales, driving solid revenue generation. 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."

Revenue for the quarter increased by 13.7% to £1.3bn while passenger numbers roose 21.6 million (+15.1%). However, capacity increases were “slightly lower than originally planned” due to the drone disruption and late deliveries of Airbus A321s.

Drone progress

To date, no one has been apprehended over the drone activity that grounded flights at Gatwick between December 19 and 21 last year. However, a 38 year old man has been arrested on charges relating to the disruption at Heathrow on January 8.

During the period between July and October 2018, the UK Airprox Board - the body responsible for monitoring the risk of aircraft collisions - received 18 reports of aircraft flying in close proximity to drones. The incidents occurred around Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands, Glasgow, London and Manchester airports, as well as RAF Wittering. Ten of the events were placed in category A: "a definite risk of collision" while another seven were in category B: "safety had not been assured".

Airports across the UK are known to be investing in anti-drone technology, while the government has proposed more stringent regulation for the autumn. More needs to be done to ensure these devises to not cause major disruption to air travel - or worse. The report from easyJet proves how a small device can create a major economic impact on the aviation industry.

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