Easter fires the starting gun for busy summer ahead

27 March 2024

This weekend marks a rare occasion when Easter falls on the same weekend as UK clocks change and airlines switch to their summer schedule.  NATS, the UK’s major provider of air traffic services, expects flights to increase by around 10% next week as the busy summer season gets under way.

So far this year, flights are 4.7% up on 2023.  Last week, the increase was 5% as the build-up to summer began.

With major world events like the Champions League Final in London and the Paris Olympics promising to increase air traffic levels, and new bases for easyJet at Birmingham and Jet2 at Liverpool, NATS has been preparing for strong demand over the next few months and is part of a Europe-wide All Together Now campaign being led by Eurocontrol.

Kathryn Leahy, NATS Chief Operations Officer, said: “We are looking forward to a very busy summer with traffic levels pretty much back to pre-pandemic levels, and we have been preparing extensively with our airline and airport customers since the start of the year to ensure the UK network is managed safely and as efficiently as possible.

“This also means working very closely with Eurocontrol to support their efforts across all aviation stakeholders to make sure Summer ‘24 runs as smoothly as possible across the whole European network.”

NATS has reinstated daily calls with airlines and airports, last held before the pandemic, to ensure all aviation stakeholders are well informed and coordinated whatever operational issues may arise anywhere in the aviation network, such as convective weather which can cause problems across the whole of Europe.  Work has also been underway to spread traffic away from expected “hotspots” in the UK network.

Leahy said: “We have a great overview of the entire network so we hope the daily calls will be useful.  Above everything, airlines and airports need stability in the system and to know if anything is likely to disrupt that.  We will be focusing especially on the first wave of departures in the morning, because that sets the scene for the rest of the day.”

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