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Record numbers go abroad for Christmas holiday

Airport scene

Around 3.5 million people will head abroad for the Christmas and New Year holiday to take a winter sunshine break or skiing holiday says travel industry body, ABTA.

Most popular winter sun destinations are the Canary Islands, Egypt and Goa, according to ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents). "Many are also beating the Christmas sales rush by heading off to Dubai for cheap prices, great shopping and 5 star luxury," the association reports.

Skiing holidays are also selling well, thanks to early snow fall in ski resorts in the Alps and in the USA and Canada. And city breaks are expected to be popular over the Christmas and New Year holiday period too.

The most popular city break destinations are expected to be Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin and New York. "Not everyone wants to catch some rays or enjoy a glass of mulled wine and many are heading off on city breaks, especially over the New Year," says ABTA.

The busiest day at UK airports will be Saturday 22 December, closely followed by Sunday 31 December. BAA estimates that around 2.7 million people will depart from their seven UK airports over the Christmas and New Year period.

BAA's busiest airport will be Heathrow, with around 1.2 million people, followed by Gatwick with 600,000, Stansted with 360,000, and Glasgow and Edinburgh with 110,000 each. Of the other major UK airports, around 270,000 are expected to fly from Manchester, 170,000 from Luton and 130,000 from Birmingham.

Away from the airports, a further 150,000 people are expected to travel abroad on Eurostar, with another 50,000 travelling on ferries to France.

Written by: Nick Purdom