Dubai a top destination as UK airports brace for two million Easter travellers

Airports and ferries are preparing for a "record-breaking" number of travellers this weekend

Airports including Gatwick are reporting 'strong numbers' according to the travel trade organisation Abta. Reuters
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Dubai, Turkey and the Canary Islands are among the most popular destinations as two million British holidaymakers travel abroad over the Easter weekend.

Amid a wet and windy weather forecast for the UK over the bank holiday weekend, one airport is preparing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers.

Airports are reporting “strong numbers” according to the travel trade organisation Abta, with 175,000 people due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

“It’s exciting that record numbers of people will be taking off from here this Easter: 320,000 people will travel [through the airport] over the bank holiday weekend – that’s up 7 per cent on April 2023," Manchester Airport's managing director Chris Woodroofe said.

Glasgow predicts more than 90,000 passengers over the four days, while Birmingham Airport said it expects a 27.2 per cent increase in departures on last year over the full Easter period.

Bristol, which predicts 30,000 holiday trips on Easter Sunday alone, advised: “If travelling with Easter eggs, passengers are advised to keep any chocolate treats in your cabin baggage and to make sure they’re easily accessible as they may need to be opened for a quick check.”

Liverpool Airport expects around 60,000 passengers over the four days, which is around 7 per cent higher than last year.

Heathrow through the years – in pictures

It comes as drivers are warned over long delays on roads with more than 14 million Easter getaway trips are expected to take place.

From 4pm on Thursday, the RAC expects the M25 to be the busiest route in both directions between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire, with journeys taking more than two hours, more than double the usual time.

The RAC and the transport analysis company Inrix commissioned a survey which suggested 2.6 million leisure journeys by car will be made on Good Friday.

The lengthiest delays are expected to be between 11am and 3pm, meaning drivers are advised to set off as early as possible in the morning or wait until later in the afternoon.

Two popular routes for holidaymakers – the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton, and the M3 between the M25 and the south coast – are likely to be congested.

Some 2.3 million getaway trips are planned for each of Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, with two million expected to take place on each of Thursday and Easter Monday.

A further 3.3 million leisure journeys have been planned by drivers who are undecided exactly what day they will travel, leading to a total of around 14.5 million getaway trips between Thursday and Easter Monday.

Gatwick Airport through the years – in pictures

Meanwhile, around 20,000 cars are expected to travel through the Port of Dover between Thursday and Easter Monday.

Car traffic at the port faced around a 10-minute wait at French Border Control on Thursday morning.

The ferry firm Stena Line said bookings on Irish Sea routes are up 115 per cent on an average weekend at this time of year and have increased by 26 per cent on Easter weekend 2023.

Wightlink said there is still availability for last-minute bookings on ferries to and from the Isle of Wight.

Brittany Ferries said sailings to France and Spain are “busy”, though overall volumes are in line with last year.

Elsewhere, Network Rail is urging train passengers to check their journey details before they travel because some major routes will be closed due to engineering work.

The West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes will be shut for four days from Good Friday.

There will also be disruption in the areas around Glasgow and Huddersfield.

The tourist board VisitEngland said around 11 million people in the UK are planning an overnight Easter trip, generating an estimated £3.2 billion [$4bn] boost to the economy.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 6:41 AM