Gatwick drone chaos cost easyJet £10million

EasyJet today revealed a £15million hit from the drone chaos at London Gatwick Airport last month.

The group said it booked £10million in extra costs, with the incident affecting around 82,000 customers and leading to more than 400 flights being cancelled.

The low-cost airline also suffered £5million in lost revenues following the disruption when the drone sightings brought the airport to a standstill just before Christmas. 

Passengers queue while waiting for announcements at Gatwick Airport on December 20, 2018

Passengers queue while waiting for announcements at Gatwick Airport on December 20, 2018

Passengers queue while waiting for announcements at Gatwick Airport on December 20, 2018

Passengers wait at Gatwick last month after drones flying over the airfield forced its closure

Passengers wait at Gatwick last month after drones flying over the airfield forced its closure

Passengers wait at Gatwick last month after drones flying over the airfield forced its closure

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said the group ‘did everything we could to help our customers affected by the incident’.

He added: ‘There has been 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.’

But Mr Lundgren said the incident was a ‘wake-up call’ for airports. He said: ‘We were disappointed that it took a long time to resolve.’

Low-cost airline easuJet also suffered £5million in lost revenues following the disruption

Low-cost airline easuJet also suffered £5million in lost revenues following the disruption

Low-cost airline easuJet also suffered £5million in lost revenues following the disruption

But he said it was a ‘criminal act and illegal activity’, adding: ‘You can’t always protect yourself from that, but it’s a wake-up call and airports will be better prepared going forward.’

Man, 38, charged with flying drone near Heathrow Airport

A 38-year-old man has been charged with flying a drone near Heathrow Airport days after the scare at Gatwick grounded more than 1,000 flights.

George Rusu allegedly used a drone on a field near the runway at Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, on Christmas Eve.

The alleged incident happened just three days after Gatwick fully reopened on December 21 following three days of chaos affecting some 140,000 passengers.

Rusu, of Hillingdon, West London, will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today.

He is charged with flying a ‘small unmanned aircraft without permission of air traffic control’, according to court documents.

In its first-quarter update, the group said it was ‘well prepared’ for Brexit and had not seen an impact on passenger bookings ahead of March 29.

It added: ‘Both the EU and the UK have committed to ensure that flights between the UK and EU will continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit.’

Mr Lundgren said: ‘For the first half of 2019, booking levels currently remain encouraging despite the lack of certainty around Brexit for our customers.’

But the first quarter saw a lower-than-expected rise in passenger capacity to 24.1 million seats due in part to the drone disruption.

Overall the group said full-year expectations are ‘broadly’ in line with market forecasts.

Police have identified about 60 potential suspects in their investigation into last month’s drone attack – but have failed to make any significant arrests.

A month after 1,000 flights were cancelled or delayed during 36 hours of chaos at the airport, the painstakingly slow progress of Sussex Police’s probe has emerged. 

According to a well-placed source, the force – which was heavily criticised over its response to the incident – has compiled a list of about 60 ‘persons of interest’. 

Anti-drone tracking and blocking equipment was used following the Gatwick disruption

Anti-drone tracking and blocking equipment was used following the Gatwick disruption

Anti-drone tracking and blocking equipment was used following the Gatwick disruption

The majority have yet to be interrogated or eliminated from the inquiry.

The airport was forced to suspend flights for a day and a half last month after two drones was spotted flying over the perimeter fence. 

About 140,000 passengers were affected as flights were cancelled.

Despite a £50,000 reward offered by Gatwick and the involvement of the Armed Forces and MI5 to assist police, there is growing resignation that those behind the drone incursion will never be caught.

Police arrested a couple from Crawley, West Sussex, on December 21, a few hours after a drone reappeared briefly at Gatwick, prompting a second shutdown.

They were interrogated for 36 hours before being cleared and released without charge.

The couple said they felt ‘violated’ after their home was searched and their identities exposed.  

A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘The investigation into illegal drone activity at Gatwick continues and we are pursuing a number of active lines of enquiry.’ 

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