Easyjet has revealed the £15 million cost to its operations in the wake of the shut-down at Gatwick airport caused by drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas, but has reported a ‘good start to the year’.
The carrier says the drone incident, which saw hundreds of flights grounded and diverted over the course of an entire day, caused a £5 million revenue loss, as well as £10 million in “customer welfare costs”.
However, total revenue for Easyjet’s first quarter to 31 December increased by 13.7 per cent to nearly £1.3 billion, £271 million of which was earned from the sale of ancillaries.
Passenger numbers were up 15.1 per cent to 21.6 million, driven by an 18.2 per cent growth in capacity – though this was “slightly lower than originally planned” due to the Gatwick drone issues and late deliveries of new A321 aircraft.
The airline also says it is “well prepared for Brexit”, with 130 aircraft registered in Austria and a “spare parts pool” in the EU. Easyjet is also transferring crew licences and expects these preparations to be completed by the time the UK leaves the union on 29 March.
Easyjet has also increased its ownership by qualifying EEA nationals to around 49 per cent.
Looking ahead, CEO Johan Lundgren commented: “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. 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.
“Recognition of the Easyjet brand continues to grow. We made good progress on our strategic initiatives; holidays, business, loyalty and data during the quarter.
“For the first half of 2019, booking levels currently remain encouraging despite the lack of certainty around Brexit for our customers. Second half bookings continue to be ahead of the last year and our expectations for the full year headline profit before tax are broadly in line with current market expectations.”
Easyjet was named Best Short-Haul Airline and Business Airline of the Year at the Business Travel Awards 2019. See a full list of winners here.