NATS expecting traffic boost for Christmas getaway

20 December 2013

By the end of this week, schools across Scotland, England and Wales will have begun their Christmas break and air traffic controllers at NATS are expecting to see a rise in the number of flights.

The busiest day of the festive period looks set to be today (20 December) – with approximately 5,800 flights predicted – as families begin the great Christmas getaway.

Last year’s busiest day of the period, which also fell on the last Friday before Christmas, saw 5,664 aircraft movements, with this year expected to top that figure.

In contrast, this year has seen a slight fall in the number of flights to Santa’s grotto, with 57 Lapland flights recorded on 15 December, down on the peak of 60 flights last year.

Throughout December, Saturdays in general have seen additional air traffic thanks to the start of the European ski season. Over 200 extra flights to and from the UK to popular ski destinations, such as Geneva, have been added to airline schedules in order to meet demand.

Comparatively, traffic is likely to be reduced between 24 December and 1 January, with NATS predicting around 1,400 flights on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are expected to attract slightly more traffic with about 3,900 flights each day.

In comparison, a typical weekday during the summer months would see NATS handle around 6,900 aircraft.

Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director Operations, said: “We’re expecting slightly higher traffic levels this year than last in the run up to Christmas before things then quieten down for a few days.

“Of course, as ever our controllers will be ready to provide Santa Claus with any help he needs flying through UK airspace on Christmas Eve.”


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