NEARLY 750,000 passengers are set to travel through Gatwick Airport during the festive period – seven times more than Christmas 2020.

Outside of the summer peak, the holiday period is traditionally among the busiest time of year at Gatwick.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport welcomed in excess of 1.6 million passengers between December 18 and 31 each year.

Gatwick is due to welcome nearly 750,000 passengers across Christmas and New Year - a 570 per cent increase on its 2020 festive passenger tally.

The busiest days for departures this year are expected to be December 23 and 26, with approximately 33,000 to 35,000 per day.

The most popular short haul route is Dublin and while Cancun is top for long haul.

Gatwick Airport chief commercial officer Jonathan Pollard said while encouraged by the number of passengers set to travel, pre-arrival Covid testing has hindered numbers.

“It is also positive to see the strong bookings for new and returning airlines, and we look forward to adding more routes and choice for passengers in the new year,” he said.

“However, it’s clear that the reinstated requirement for a pre-arrival Covid-19 test and day 2 PCR test has impacted some people’s travel plans over the holiday period.

“While we understand the need for measures to stop the spread of the Omicron variant until more scientific information on its level of harm is available, it is vital these are in place no longer than absolutely necessary.”

Passengers looking to get away this Christmas will be boosted by the arrival of two new airlines at Gatwick.

Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, began operating three-times weekly flights to Bangkok on December 16, while regional airline Eastern Airways launched its daily service to Newquay on December 15.

Popular low-cost airline Wizz also returned to Gatwick, with flights to Athens, Malta, Lanzarote and Malaga, while Emirates also restarted its daily service to Dubai earlier this month.

In total, 30 airlines are currently operating from Gatwick’s North Terminal.