Drone disruption at Gatwick costs EasyJet £15m

Budget airline expects full-year headline profit before tax to be in line with current market expectations

The Gatwick disruption affected 82,000 EasyJet customers and cancelling over 400 of its flights. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

British budget airline EasyJet said on Tuesday that drone disruption at London's Gatwick airport in December had cost it millions of pounds in lost operating revenue and additional costs.

The airline had a £5 million (€5.66m) revenue impact and £10 million in extra costs after a mystery saboteur wrought 36 hours of travel chaos at London’s second biggest airport, affecting 82,000 EasyJet customers and cancelling over 400 of its flights.

"There has been a one-off cost impact from this incident, but underlying cost progress is in line with expectations," said chief executive Johan Lundgren.

The airline said that booking levels for 2019 were encouraging despite uncertainty around Brexit, and that it expected full-year headline profit before tax to come in broadly in line with current market expectations.


“Second half bookings continue to be ahead of last year,” Mr Lundgren said.

And while demand remains strong, with first-quarter revenue up 14 per cent, aided by a jump in spending on add-ons such as pre-booked seats, fares are taking a pummelling, especially in Berlin, where a base opened after the collapse of Air Berlin will post a loss in 2019.

Winter fares

Ryanair set the tone last week with a second profit warning in four months as winter fares fell three times faster than predicted. Conditions are now starkly different from a year ago when the exit of Air Berlin and Monarch Airlines removed excess seats and lifted fares – EasyJet says rivals have been more disciplined in restoring capacity growth in some of its markets.

The negative trends at Europe's two biggest discount airlines come after the International Air Transport Association trade group last month identified Europe as the only global region likely see to earnings worsen this year amid intense competition. – Reuters/Bloomberg