Airports and airlines are expecting their busiest weekend of the year so far as schools close and the summer holidays begin for millions.
Gatwick Airport said it expects to see around 250 to 260 flights and between 25,000 to 27,000 passengers a day over the weekend – up from a low of just 15 flights a day at the height of the pandemic.
The airport said flight numbers are still far below the 950 per day at this time of year pre-Covid.
A spokesman said: “Our passengers are now able to choose from flights to more than 100 destinations in over 30 countries so we’re expecting our busiest weekend of the year so far.
“We will handle over 250 each day, with locations in Spain and Greece particularly popular.
“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend – the start of the summer holidays – for some time and cannot wait to finally see our passengers enjoying themselves, whether that’s indulging in some retail therapy or eating in our restaurants, before jetting off on a well-deserved holiday.”
Airline easyJet said it is preparing to carry more than 135,000 passengers this weekend from the UK on over 80 routes to green and amber-list destinations across Europe.
In total there will be 251 easyJet flights taking to the skies, with popular destinations including Malta, Madeira, Malaga in Spain, Faro and Lisbon in Portugal, and Corfu and Athens in Greece, the airline added.
Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK country manager, said: “With schools breaking up for summer, this weekend sees the busiest weekend so far this year and we are looking forward to taking as many people as we can on that long-awaited and well-deserved trip, or to reunite them with their loved ones.”
Tui said it has almost double the number of passengers travelling Friday to Sunday compared to last weekend, with the Balearics and Greece the “clear favourites” and Palma, Ibiza and Rhodes the most popular destinations.
From today, fully UK vaccinated adults and under 18's do not need to quarantine when arriving from a country on the UK Amber list* 🟠 (*except France)
Check testing and entry requirements before you travel 👉 https://t.co/kZfZXbTz9Y#travelaware #amberlist pic.twitter.com/vHohx9NCjt
— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) July 19, 2021
A spokeswoman said it will be resuming flights to Alicante and Malaga in Spain, the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, Kefalonia and Skiathos in Greece, and Marrakech, Morocco, this weekend.
Since May, quarantine and testing requirements have been determined by whether a person is entering the UK from a green, amber or red list location.
Travellers returning from a green destination are not required to self-isolate, but only a handful of major European summer hotspots are in that tier.
Spain, Italy and Greece are among the countries on the amber list.
Those returning from an amber country must quarantine at home for 10 days unless they have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.