Friday is forecast to be Gatwick’s busiest Christmas season departure day with almost 67,000 passengers expected.

A record of 2.1 million passengers are projected to use Gatwick over the festive period between December 15 and January 3, with numbers up by 6% on Christmas Day alone over last year.

Oakland for San Francisco is the biggest growing long-haul destination, up 122.6% year-on-year, followed by St Lucia and Fort Lauderdale.

The number of passengers leaving Ivalo have more than doubled with the Lapland destination the airport’s biggest growing short haul destination.

Gatwick chief commercial officer Guy Stephenson said: “Every Christmas we welcome millions of people through Gatwick airport but this festive season is set to be our biggest ever.

“We’re excited to be part of these journeys and our staff will be on hand to make their experiences as seamless as ever and make sure their breaks get off to an enjoyable start.

“It has been an amazing year and we’re looking forward to 2018 and what it will bring for all of those working at and travelling through Gatwick.”

Top 10 biggest growing Christmas long haul destinations:

1. Oakland, San Francisco +122.6%
2. St Lucia +108.2%
3. Fort Lauderdale +99.6%
4. Varadero +72.9%
5. New York +51.2%
6. Hong Kong +50.0%
7. Los Angeles +44.2%
8. Tianjin +41.5%
9. Mauritius +32.7%
10. Boston +32.1%

Top 10 biggest growing Christmas short-haul destinations 2017

1. Ivalo, Lapland +110.3%
2. Antalya +109.8%
3. Marsa Alam +77.2%
4. Ostersund +63.4%
5. Aalborg +63%
6. Stavanger +50.5%
7. Tallin +47.9%
8. Catania +41.9%
9. Trondheim +38.4%
10. Oslo +36.4%