| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Air travel takes off on busiest weekend since pandemic

UK airlines and airports revealed that they are having their busiest weekend since the pandemic began as schools close and the summer holidays kicked off.

Heathrow Airport expects 60,000 passengers to depart daily, while Gatwick says it expects 250 flights a day – up from a low of just 15. But the numbers are still far below pre-pandemic levels.

The top destination for UK travellers is Spain followed by Greece.

After 18 months in which the travel industry has been devastated by the pandemic, companies including Easyjet, TUI and Jet2, as well as major airports, said they would have more passengers this weekend than at any time since the pandemic began.

Air travel companies said the decision to allow fully inoculated travellers to visit amber list countries without quarantining on their return had encouraged people to travel.

Manchester Airport said it was “an encouraging but tentative step towards recovery”, but it said the government’s “chaotic and unpredictable” approach to international travel had damaged confidence.

Easyjet suggested the vaccination programme had given the travel industry a boost, with many Britons saying they were much more likely to be willing to travel once they had been double-vaccinated and that travel had been a major motivation for getting jabbed for many of them.