4.5 million Britons will travel abroad for Christmas and New Year


More than 4.5 million people will head abroad from the UK over Christmas and New Year, new figures show.

Travel association Abta said Friday is expected to be the busiest day.

Popular short haul destinations for winter sun include Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, while flights to Cape Verde, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Goa have seen strong demand by people taking long haul sunshine breaks.

Dublin, Barcelona, New York and Amsterdam are among the most common locations for New Year's Eve trips.

Airline passengers are advised to leave plenty of time to catch their flights, with a total of 4.5 million people heading abroad between December 18 and January 2.

Estimates for departing passengers from airports over that period, according to Abta, include:

:: Gatwick 990,000

:: Stansted 638,000

:: Luton 380,000

:: Edinburgh 238,000

:: Birmingham 215,000

:: Bristol 130,000

Heathrow has previously said it is expecting 1.2 million departing passengers from December 16-26.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "Christmas and New Year are always a very busy time for the travel industry, with millions of people heading off overseas either to visit friends and family or take a well-earned holiday.

"At certain times, the roads and public transport will be very busy, so we are advising travellers to check in advance and leave extra time to get to the airport if necessary."

Rail operator Eurostar is set to welcome over 368,000 passengers between December 21 and January 3.

December 30 will be the peak day for travel, with more than 37,000 people travelling across the Channel the day before New Year's Eve.

Eurostar's commercial director Nick Mercer said: "Christmas shoppers have been flocking to Paris and London over the last few weeks to soak up the atmosphere and stock up on festive treats.

"There's always a great atmosphere in our stations and this year our staff have a range of activities lined up to spread the Christmas cheer."

Breakdown firm the RAC predicted that the busiest time on the roads over the festive period will be between 4pm and 8pm on Friday as leisure travellers taking 3.5 million trips combine with regular rush hour traffic as people drive home from work.

Saturday between 10am and 2pm was also highlighted as a likely time for congestion, as 3.8 million people embark on the Christmas Eve getaway to visit friends and family.

The figures are based on a survey of 1,546 motorists.

Rail passengers face disruption with the annual festive shutdown meaning no trains will run on Christmas Day, with only certain services on Boxing Day.

A number of lines will be closed for an extended period as Network Rail carries out up to 200 improvement projects costing £103 million.

Passengers travelling in London, Manchester and Cardiff will be among the worst affected.

A strike by RMT conductors is expected to cause disruption on the Southern network between December 31 and January 2.