The hidden costs of drone incursions on airport stakeholder perception

The hidden costs of drone incursions on airport stakeholder perception

For any airport, secure and safe operations, healthy relations with your stakeholders – be it airport personnel, operational managers, partners, investors, or the public – is essential. 

This doesn’t just mean ensuring reliable and convenient flights – but also maintaining a reputation of trust, safety, and reliability. Situated in the unique position of acting as an intermediary between the public and flight operators, airports must continue to appease both stakeholders and the public. 

However, drones are more advanced and commercially accessible than ever. Because of this, the growing risk of drone incursions can seriously jeopardise trust and reputation. So, how can airports continue to ensure healthy stakeholder perceptions?  

Below, we’re exploring the critical issue of drone incursions at airports in more detail – examining the financial costs that come as a result, their profound impact on the perception of the public, operators, and other stakeholders, as well as how airports can fight back with greater situational intelligence. 

Drone incursions and their financial impact 

When a drone performs an unexpected incursion on an airport, multiple areas of the business may find themselves with a heavy financial loss. To put this into perspective, let’s consider two well-known incidents: 

  1. During a recent famous incident at Gatwick Airport, where the operations were shut down for 36 hours, the airline easyJet singlehandedly reported losses of £15 million
  2. A similar incident at Dubai International Airport resulted in an estimated loss of $95,000 per minute. 

Traditionally, there are three areas in which an airport may experience a financial loss due to a drone incursion.

  1. Loss of revenue and compensation payments due to operations being suspended
  2. Reparations due to damages to physical assets caused by the drone itself
  3. Any actions taken after the incident by third parties, such as insurance organisations  

What’s more, after the initial incursion, airports may lose further revenue as passengers and airlines opt for alternative airports they view as safer. Demonstrating the importance of maintaining excellent stakeholder perceptions. There is a wide range of stakeholders, and each one can affect an airport’s revenue.  


How might a drone incursion affect your stakeholder perception? 

Reputational damage is a significant consequence of a drone incursion, and several stakeholders can lose their trust in airports following a drone incursion.  

These include: 

Passengers, who may lose confidence in an airport’s ability to deal effectively with security issues 

Airlines, who may choose to prioritise a more trusted airport to prevent further financial losses 

Regulators, who may not perceive the closure of an airport well and might cause further political scrutiny 

Site personnel and pilots, who may find themselves under pressure to resolve any issues and assure the safety of passengers 

Shareholders, who may reconsider their investment after an airport shows an inability to manage threats 


The importance of transparency 

In an ideal world, a drone incursion will be effectively identified, tracked, and managed, to ensure close to zero delays and minimal disruptions. However, when an incursion does cause disruption, how should a site respond to limit reputational damage? 

When it comes to a site addressing an incident, transparency is more than just a buzzword – it’s the key to building trust.  

This means collaborating transparently with stakeholders, customers, and personnel to ensure an accurate interpretation of the status of operations is understood. And, if possible, to put in place measures to stop this from happening moving forward.  

However, achieving transparency during these high-stress situations comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. Open communication can be a double-edged sword, as various factors such as privacy concerns, expectation management, and legal or regulatory constraints need to be considered. Transparency can also be difficult to achieve with limited data and insight – once again highlighting the importance of comprehensive situational intelligence. 


Mitigating incursions through advanced systems 

Drone incursions are only growing more frequent, with incidents rising by 730% in the last decade, according to the UK Airprox Count. So, how can airports stay one step ahead? 

To prevent drone incursions from jeopardising your site’s safety, and ensuring efficient operations, airports must be able to access a comprehensive level of situational intelligence and enable proactive, preventative measures. 

While this may sound like a substantial investment, there are a range of solutions available to airports with any budget. 

  1. Seek expert advice specific to your site: The first and crucial step is to seek expert advice tailored to your airport’s unique needs and vulnerabilities. Experts can assess your site’s current security ecosystem and characteristics, and recommend a tailored strategy.
  2. Start with entry-level systems: Airports don’t have to jump straight to a high-cost, comprehensive system. Consider beginning with entry-level counter-drone systems that align with your budget and gradually building your capabilities from there. These initial steps can significantly enhance your site’s security.
  3. Continue to implement additional security measures: Once an entry-level system is in place, airports can continue to add to it as needed, responding to the latest risks while bolstering overall site security.

Interested in learning more about responding to the latest UAS risks? Discover our full suite of counter-drone systems. 

Helping airports create safer spaces 

The challenges posed by drone incursions extend far beyond the immediate security and safety concerns. Incidents can have a profound and lasting impact, eroding stakeholder perception and causing both immediate financial harm and long-term revenue loss.  

To prevent these risks, airports need to ensure that they have security systems in place to accurately identify, track, and manage possible incursions.  

It’s important to note that every airport, regardless of its size or available resources, has the capacity to initiate and implement some level of effective counter-drone measures. These measures can serve as a foundation and be progressively enhanced as resources become available. Equipped with real-time data, airports can confidently resolve issues before they cause widespread disruption and can also clearly communicate with full transparency when required. This is how you can rebuild trust with your stakeholders.  

Discover how our counter-drone solutions are designed to provide critical situational intelligence on our dedicated airports and aviation page.