BA Says It Lost $76 Million During Terrorism Alert

British Airways PLC said Tuesday that the terrorism scare last month that grounded thousands of its flights cost the airline $76 million.

The carrier said the extra expense came from lost revenues - it canceled around 1,280 flights during the height of the alert - and the cost of hotels, catering and baggage repatriation for passengers whose flights were canceled.

The airline added that there has been some impact on forward bookings since the disruption, largely because of ongoing heightened security measures at Britain's airports.

However, overall passenger numbers were still up in August compared with last year, rising 1.5 percent to 3.15 million.

"The overall level of bookings has returned to levels experienced last year, but is still weaker than the trend of the past few months," BA said in a statement. "The recovery of premium and non-premium transfer traffic, for example, is lagging due to the limitations on carryon baggage at London."

BA is the first airline to reveal a cost estimate for the alert that crippled the country's airports last month.

In comparison, a week before the alert the carrier announced a first-quarter net profit of 150 million pounds (US$282 million; euro221 million) on revenue of 2.32 billion pounds (US$4.36 billion; euro3.41 billion).

The trans-Atlantic route was the target of an alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 aircraft with liquid explosives that was revealed by the government on Aug. 10, sparking tough new security regulations that banned all hand luggage and increased passenger searches.

Travelers were restricted to one clear plastic bag as carry on luggage, holding little more than their passport and tickets. No food or drink was allowed on board and mothers were forced to taste bottles of baby milk to show it was safe.

Those measures have since been eased, but restrictions still apply on hand luggage - all liquids, including toiletries, remain banned.

BA is among several airlines that blamed BAA PLC for the chaos that followed the alert, claiming the airports authority was ill-prepared for the emergency. BAA has defended its actions.

Budget airline Ryanair Holdings PLC, meanwhile, has blamed the government for its own loss of revenue and has launched legal action in the High Court, claiming 3 million pounds (US$5.7 million; euro4.4 million) compensation.

Looking ahead, BA said "visibility" about trading was limited as it emerged from the issues surrounding August's alert, but added that market conditions continue to be good.

Shares in the company closed 1.1 percent higher at 418.75 pence (US$7.93; euro6.17).

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