More than two million British holidaymakers will head overseas this weekend in what is being billed as the Great Summer Getaway.
Travel association Abta estimates that 2.1 million holidaymakers are set to head overseas, with Heathrow Airport expecting its “busiest day ever” on Friday.
As the school summer holidays begin, Heathrow officials are expecting more than 500,000 passengers to travel through the airport over the weekend, including a record-breaking 129,647 holidaymakers departing throughout Friday.
A Heathrow spokeswomen said: “With Friday set to be our busiest day ever, the terminals will be staffed with extra volunteers and passenger ambassadors to advise on everything from check in, to what gate to go to, how to entertain the kids whilst waiting for the flight, or what restaurant to eat at. Whether travelling for business or pleasure, we’re ready to help our passengers every step of the way.”
Spain remains the number one destination for the UK market and, with the pound at an eight year high against the Euro, holidaymakers are flocking to other eurozone countries including Cyprus, France and Greece. Florida remains the number one long haul choice for families, according to Abta.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said Greece was proving popular after they secured a financial bailout. “This weekend sees the great summer getaway in full swing with all of the schools in the UK having broken up for their summer break and hundreds of thousands of UK holidaymakers heading off for a break.
“Many of our members are reporting an increase in late bookings to Greece following the recent progress in securing a bailout, with customers taking advantage of some exceptional deals.”
Other airports across the South East are also expecting a busy weekend - 310,000 passengers will depart from Gatwick and 160,000 from Stansted.
In the North, Manchester Airport will see 342,000 holidaymakers pass through the airport, a 3.3 per cent rise on this time last year. In Scotland 100,000 passengers will depart across the weekend.
Roads and ports are expected to be busy too. The RAC estimates 2.3 million holidaymakers will hit the road on Saturday and Channel Tunnel rail operator Eurostar estimates 71,000 holidaymakers will travel to Paris and the south of France across the weekend.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “This coming weekend will see a ‘summer spike’ of traffic on major roads, with families who have spent the first week of the school holidays planning a break finally making their getaway.
“We’re expecting traffic to peak on Saturday, with some 2.3 million holidaymakers on the road, but Friday is also likely to see jams as two million of us take to the wheel to start a summer break.”
Mr Williams warned motorists to “ensure tyres have enough tread, check oil and coolant levels, and don’t overload your vehicle”.