Millions of Brits head abroad for Christmas and new year

Friday is expected to be the peak travel day as more than 4.7 million people flock overseas for Christmas and new year, Abta estimated today.

Millions will be leaving the country through major airports in the period up until January 2, all of which are reporting high volumes of passengers.

More than one million are due to depart from Heathrow over the festive period, 560,000 from Stansted, 377,500 from Luton, in addition to around 235,000 leaving from Bristol. Gatwick expects to see 73,000 passengers fly out on Sunday alone.

Hundreds of thousands of travellers are departing from Scottish airports, including 262,184 from Edinburgh, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports, including 33,615 from Southend.

The Canary Islands, Alicante and Egypt are the top short-haul winter sun destinations while Dubai and India are long haul favourites.

Tromso and Lapland are expected to be the most popular snow destinations, while Munich and Frankfurt are also selling well this year.

Large numbers are also travelling by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with hundreds of thousands heading off on Eurostar which is reporting December 21 as its busiest day.

Many are taking domestic breaks in the UK, with trips to the Lake District having sold well, as well as breaks in the south-west of England.

Christmas Day expected to be the quietest day for travel.

Popular new year’s eve breaks include Amsterdam, Budapest and Berlin together with London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

Europe is the number one destination people plan to travel to on holiday next year as travel industry gears up for its peak turn of year selling period with discounts and free child places

Assurances have been issued by the European Commission and UK government that flights will continue to run between the UK and the EU and that UK visitors to EU countries will not need a visa even in the event of a no-deal Brexit (see separate story).

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Christmas and new year are always very busy times for the travel industry as people head off to spend their well-earned holidays with family and friends.

“It’s important people allow extra time for their journeys and check ahead for any disruption if travelling by public transport.

“Over the Christmas period, lots of people will also start to plan and book their summer holidays, and naturally they have questions about what Brexit means for travel.

“However, travellers can be reassured that regardless of the Brexit outcome, the EU and UK Government have said planes will still fly between the UK and the EU and travellers won’t need a visa.”

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