THE drones chaos at Gatwick Airport just before Christmas cost easyJet £15million, the airline has revealed.
The budget airline said it incurred £10million in extra costs and £5million in lost revenues after more than 400 of its flights had to be cancelled.
Boss Johan Lundgren said he had been ‘disappointed’ the shutdown caused by the series of reported drone sightings lasted more than a day.
But he acknowledged authorities could not risk a plane colliding with a drone being flown over the airport, which he pointed out was a ‘criminal act’. He added: ‘You can’t always protect yourself from that but it’s a wake-up call and airports will be better prepared.’
Mr Lundgren said easyJet had done everything it could to help stranded passengers. ‘I am proud of the way our teams worked around the clock to mitigate the impact and looked after affected customers,’ he added. EasyJet also announced total revenue rose by 13.7 per cent to £1.29million in the three months to December 31 — the first quarter of its financial year.
Due in part to the drone disruption there was a lower-than-expected rise in passenger capacity, to 24.1million seats.
But the company said full-year expectations remained broadly in line with previous forecasts. It said the UK and EU were committed to ensuring flights continue if there is a no-deal Brexit. Mr Lundgren said: ‘Booking levels remain encouraging despite the lack of certainty around Brexit for our customers.’
■ A DAD who flew a model aircraft 500 yards from Heathrow Airport three days after the Gatwick chaos was fined £2,000 at Uxbridge magistrates’ court. George Rusu, 38, admitted using the 3ft device near his home in West Drayton.
Record number in jobs as pay beats inflation
RECORD numbers of people are in work while the jobless rate of four per cent is the lowest since 1975.
Office for National Statistics figures also show that average earnings increased by 3.4 per cent in the year to November, outpacing inflation, and the highest rate for a decade.
Employment increased to 32.5million, the highest since records began in 1971. The number of people classed as economically inactive fell to 8.6million, or 21 per cent, the lowest rate on record. Job vacancies in the quarter stood at a record high of 853,000.
Khan keen to nip Tulip in the bud
SADIQ KHAN has slammed plans for a new 1,000ft London skyscraper — because he fears the height is ‘unjustified’ and visitors would not be able to go up it for free.
The London mayor has ‘significant concerns’ over architects Foster + Partners’ plans for the concrete and glass Tulip Tower, which would have a bar and a ‘classroom in the sky’.
A report by the Greater London Authority said the London Plan calls for free access to tall buildings, but the tower’s 12th floor would only have ‘limited space for free use by schools’. It said the height was ‘unjustified’ and would harm the ‘historic environment’.
If the plans are approved, Tulip would be built next to The Gherkin by 2025 and would be the second-tallest building in the capital, behind The Shard.
■ PETS AT HOME plans to spend £8million stockpiling products amid Brexit uncertainty. The chain, which had record sales last month, said supplies could suffer as 17 per cent of its goods are from outside the UK.
■ PATISSERIE VALERIE has collapsed into administration, putting 2,800 jobs at risk. The cafe chain said discussions with lenders over its debts had come to nothing, so it had appointed KPMG as administrator.
■ KPMG faces a second inquiry into the way it audited the accounts of collapsed construction company Carillion. There are concerns documents provided to the Financial Reporting Council were backdated.
■ CASH machine operators are to be given ‘super premiums’ to help keep ATMs in remote areas open. Up to £2.75 per withdrawal will be paid by banks to ATM firms. About 1,000 machines will initially be eligible from April, said Link.
■ THE chief executive of the troubled construction giant Kier Group, Haydn Mursell, is to leave with immediate effect. The board has asked chairman Philip Cox to act in an interim executive capacity.