An passenger jet preparing to land at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex / PA

Exclusive: i has compiled data from the UK’s busiest airports, which reveals a record-breaking Easter holiday

The Easter travel rush is starting earlier than ever, with one of Britain’s top five airports predicting its busiest day will be 1 April. But travellers by road and rail face frustrating journeys, due to engineering works on the nation’s creaking infrastructure.

i has compiled data from the UK’s busiest airports, which reveals a record-breaking Easter holiday. At Edinburgh airport, tomorrow will be the peak day for departing passengers, with more than 17,000 flying out of the Scottish capital. Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris are the key destinations, with Malaga the Mediterranean favourite.

The terminals at England’s busiest holiday airport, Gatwick, will be at their busiest on Good Friday, with 65,000 passengers expected to leave. Passenger numbers are up 4.6 per cent over last year, making it the busiest-ever Easter for the Sussex airport. Barcelona is in the top spot, followed by Dublin and Malaga, with Geneva and Orlando edging out last year’s top-five contenders, Faro and Amsterdam.

Stansted is also expecting Good Friday to be its peak day for departures, with 40,500 passengers taking off. The following day, Ryanair dips a toe into the Atlantic by launching the first budget flights to the Azores. A weekly flight will connect Essex with the island of Sao Miguel.


More than a quarter-million passengers are expected to arrive and depart through Manchester airport over the Easter weekend, though the airport’s peak day is predicted to be the following week, on Friday 10 April.

At Heathrow, Maundy Thursday - 2 April - will be busiest for departures, as a combination of business travellers and holidaymakers push numbers to 120,000 - or 111 people per minute during operating hours.

The same day is also when rail passenger numbers will peak, both within Britain and on Eurostar services from London to Paris and Brussels.

Over the Easter weekend, though, two major UK rail arteries will be severed. The worst disruption will be between London Euston and Milton Keynes on the West Coast main line. Services between the capital and Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow are likely to involve circuitous journeys and/or replacement buses, which will add two hours or more to many trips.

Journeys on the Great Western line between London, Bristol and South Wales will be protracted because of engineering work between the capital and Didcot Parkway. Trains to Bristol Parkway will take twice as long as usual, with a detour via Banbury and Oxford.

On the roads, 550 miles of current restrictions are due to be lifted at 6am on Thursday, but Highways England is still forecasting delays on the A1, M25, M4, M5 and M6, with the A64 between Leeds and Scarborough and the A303 through Wiltshire also expected to be busy.