CHRISTMAS EVE EXODUS 'SWOLLEN BY THE WEEKEND FACTOR'
The number of people jetting off on Christmas Eve is set to soar because it falls on a Saturday, the UK's second busiest airport has said
Gatwick in West Sussex is expecting 59,000 departing passengers on December 24, up 34% on last year's figure.
The 2016 calendar means travellers can benefit from a long weekend over Christmas, with bank holidays on the following Monday and Tuesday.
Passenger numbers are also due to rise on New Year's Eve as it falls on a Saturday.
Some 49,000 people are set to fly from Gatwick on the last day of the year, representing a 32% boost on the same date in 2015.
It will be the first time since 2011 that both Christmas and New Year are on weekends.
Gatwick's chief commercial officer Guy Stephenson said: "For the first time in years, both Christmas and New Year's 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."
Manchester Airport is expecting 640,000 passengers departing or arriving during the peak Christmas travel period from December 23 to January 2, up 22% year-on-year.
These are the top five Christmas long-haul destinations from Gatwick:
4. New York
These are the top five Christmas short-haul destinations from Gatwick: