‘Tis the season to be holidaying: record numbers set to take to the skies for Christmas and New Year’s


  • Britons capitalise on first weekend Christmas in five years by jetting out of the UK
  • Gatwick’s Christmas Eve passenger numbers likely to be 34% higher than 2015, with New Year’s Eve traffic 32% higher
  • Longer Christmas and New Year weekends expected to boost total number of passengers by more than 10%

12th December 2016: Increasing numbers of Britons will take advantage of a ‘Weekend Christmas’ by jetting off to pastures new for their festivities, according to data released today by Gatwick Airport. With both Christmas and New Year falling on a weekend for the first time in five years, more passengers than ever before will take to the skies for an extended holiday.

Passenger numbers at the airport are expected to be 34% higher on Christmas Eve than on the same day last year, with total traffic in the lead up to and including Christmas Day predicted to be up 12% on last year. The busiest single day for the airport will be Friday 23rd December, when passengers flying into and out of London Gatwick are expected to be up by almost a fifth (18%). Even passenger numbers on Christmas Day, typically the quietest day for travelling over the festive period, are predicted to be 25% higher than last year.

Furthermore, an increasing number of Brits are set to take to the skies around the New Year period, with a 22% increase from 2015 to 2016 on the 30th December, and a 32% increase on the 31st.

Top destinations for passengers flying out over the Christmas period are below, with Los Angeles entering the top ten long-haul list for the first time ever, joined by new route Cape Town which in its first year as a destination from Gatwick is already in the Christmas top ten of long-haul routes.

Top ten Christmas long-haul destinations

  1. Dubai
  2. Bridgetown
  3. Orlando
  4. New York
  5. Toronto
  6. Cancun
  7. Las Vegas
  8. Montego Bay
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Cape Town

Top ten Christmas short-haul destinations

  1. Dublin
  2. Geneva
  3. Barcelona
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Belfast
  6. Madrid
  7. Tenerife
  8. Copenhagen
  9. Milan
  10. Malaga

Thousands of staff at Gatwick will work on December 25th to ensure passengers a safe and seamless experience as they set off across the globe.

Gatwick Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer Guy Stephenson said:

“For the first time in years, both Christmas and New Years Eve have fallen on a weekend, meaning more Brits will be waving goodbye to 2016 from afar.

“Here at Gatwick, we have an incredibly dedicated team of people who will be giving up their own Christmases in order to ensure our passengers go safely on their way, as they would on any other day of the year.

“This has been another record-breaking year for the airport and it seems only fitting that we end it with an equally strong festive period.”


Research methodology: Numbers were calculated by comparing actual passenger numbers from 2015 with predicted passenger numbers for 2016.

About London Gatwick

Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 228 destinations in 74 countries for 45 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the UK contributing £5.3 billion to national GDP and generating 85,000 jobs nationally, with around 24,000 on the wider airport campus alone. The airport is south of Central London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express, and is part of the Oyster contactless payment network. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.

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