Airports in London are preparing for the busy Christmas period, with millions of passengers expected to fly out of the UK on festive breaks over the next week.
The number of passengers flying through Gatwick this Christmas will increase by 7.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to forecasts released by the airport today.
A record-breaking 2.9 million passengers will travel through Gatwick across the festive period.
The busiest day is expected to be Sunday, December 30th, when as many as 142,000 people will move through the airport.
Christmas in Vietnam appears to be an increasingly appealing prospect for Gatwick passengers, as the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc - where the average December temperature is 30°C - will be the long-haul route with the highest growth, up 79.2 per cent year-on-year.
Elsewhere, Kuusamo in Lapland will be the short-haul route with the second-highest year-on-year growth, up 76.6 per cent.
Gatwick recently announced that it will offer more flights to Lapland – the home of Father Christmas – than any other UK airport this winter.
Stephen King, head of airline relations, Gatwick Airport, said: “It’s going to be the busiest Christmas in the airport’s history, and our friendly staff will be on hand throughout the season to ensure the passenger experience is as seamless and enjoyable as ever.”
At the same time, Manchester Airport is gearing up for the festive season as 1.56 million passengers are set to travel through the UK’s third largest gateway before January 6th.
Friday, December 21st will see the Northern hub welcome the most passengers, with 79,300 due to depart from or arrive at Manchester’s three terminals.
In total over the festive period the airport will see an additional 100,000 passengers compared to the previous year, an increase of seven per cent.
The most popular Christmas destinations include Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam, Tenerife and Paris.
Fiona Wright, customer services and security director at Manchester Airport, said: “As we edge closer to Christmas and New Year, we want to ensure each and every one of our passengers has the best experience and start to their trip, while ensuring their safety and security.
“Our colleagues are committed to ensuring passengers get away seamlessly, which is why we are issuing this advice today to make as many passengers’ journeys as easy as possible whether they are jetting off to Benidorm, Beijing or Barbados.”
Meanwhile, at Heathrow new data reveals the role the UK’s only hub airport and biggest port by value plays in transporting essential ingredients for Christmas celebrations across the world.
Based on historical trends, over 140,000 tonnes of Christmas cargo – the equivalent of 66 London Eyes - is expected to fly in and out of Heathrow in the weeks preceding and following the holiday season.
The airport’s analysis of Seabury cargo data over November and December 2017 reveals a clear spike in the export of certain Christmas essentials ahead of the holidays, including game meat, rose bushes, venison, felt hats and walnuts.
The same data shows over £112,000 worth of rose bushes, over £97,000 of cigars travelled through Heathrow at the same time.
The figures also reveal a spike in the number of Christmas trees, snowploughs and snowblowers in Heathrow’s cargo in the run up to the festive season.
Nick Platts, head of cargo at Heathrow Airport, said: “Many of our passengers don’t realise the amount of cargo that is under their feet when they fly, nor the essential role Heathrow plays in getting not only people to Christmas festivities across the world, but also the key ingredients for those celebrations.
“We are very proud to be making a big contribution to spreading British Christmas cheer around the globe again this year.”