Almost three million passengers are expected to use Gatwick this festive season.

The record figure of 2.9 million represents a 7.7% rise on the same period last year, according to forecasts released by the airport today.

December 23 is projected to be the busiest day for departures, with the airport handling 73,000 passengers, while January 6 will see 71,000 arrivals.

Travel peaks on December 30 with a combined 142,000 departures and arrivals.

The Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc is the long-haul route with the highest growth, up 79.2% year-on-year.

Thousands of passengers have also opted for a Florida Christmas this year, with long-haul r

Routes to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale in Florida are up by 69.1% and 54.2% respectively with Orlando showing +28.1% growth.

Dalaman in Turkey has rebounded in popularity with 153% more passengers spending Christmas there compared with 2017.

Kuusamo in Lapland is the short-haul route with the second-highest year-on-year growth, up 76.6%.

Airport head of airline relations Stephen King said: “We’re excited to be welcoming 2.9 million passengers to Gatwick over the festive period.

“It’s going to be the busiest Christmas in the airport’s history, and our friendly staff will be on hand throughout the season to ensure the passenger experience is as seamless and enjoyable as ever.

“Whether they’re jetting off for a sunshine break in Phú Quốc or Tampa, or spending the holidays in Europe, we wish all of our passengers an unforgettable Christmas trip.

“It’s been a fantastic year for Gatwick and we’re really looking forward to building on that success and continuing to deliver for our passengers in 2019.”