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More than 4.5 million people expected to escape UK over festive period

More than 4.5 million people are expected to escape the UK for Christmas and the new year, Abta estimated today.

The peak travel day is predicted to be tomorrow (Friday) with Christmas Day expected to be the quietest day.

Winter sun lovers are heading to the Canary Islands, Antalya in Turkey and Hurghada in Egypt, plus Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

France, Italy and Austria are the most popular destinations for those looking for a traditional experience in a snowy destination, with Lapland and Iceland also selling well this year.

Popular New Year’s Eve breaks include the cities of New York, Amsterdam, Geneva, Dublin, Barcelona and Budapest. London and Edinburgh lead the way domestically.

Travellers are being urged to leave extra time to get to airports due to busy traffic, and to check in advance for any travel restrictions if using public transport.

Millions of people are leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting high numbers.

More than a million are departing from Gatwick, 525,000 from Stansted, 330,000 from Luton and around 480,000 from Manchester.

Heathrow is also anticipated to be very busy with substantial passenger numbers in line with other airports.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers are leaving the UK from Scottish airports, with 226,000 travelling through Edinburgh alone, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports.

A significant number of people are also travelling across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with hundreds of thousands using Eurostar.

Many are taking the opportunity to take a UK break, staying in a country cottage or a seaside resort. City breaks in London and York have also sold well.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Christmas and new year are always a very busy time for the travel industry with people heading off for winter sun or guaranteed snow for a truly authentic Christmas experience.

“The weather in the UK looks set to be mild over the holiday period, which should help avoid travel disruption, but the roads will be exceptionally busy so customers should allow extra time to get to their departure port and check for line closures and engineering work if using public transport.”

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