Gatwick airport has reported an upturn in demand for travel over the Christmas period.

The airport is forecasting that 200 flights a day will operate – a significant drop from the 700 daily flights that would usually operate at this time of year, but an increase on recent traffic levels.

Popular destinations include Dublin, Geneva and Tenerife, despite travel restrictions being in place. St Lucia, Antigua, and Barbados are the most popular long-haul destinations.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said: “We know the demand for international travel is strong, especially as we approach the festive period. It is vital for the recovery of the aviation industry that we make travelling during the pandemic as safe and easy as possible.

“With our airlines increasing flying schedules to meet this demand, we expect to see many more passengers travelling through Gatwick than over the past couple of months and we are doing all we can to offer passengers a greater level of reassurance.”

He added: “Passengers are able to book Covid-19 PCR screening at Gatwick or of course use other providers away from the airport if they want to get away this Christmas.

“In addition, expanding the provision of UV technology across more security lanes in the North Terminal is yet another innovative step we have taken in helping protect passengers at Gatwick Airport.”

The airport said easyJet will be operating up to 75 departures a day over Christmas, while Wizz, Tui, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and Aurigny have also resumed operations. WestJet, Ryanair and Vueling continue to offer services, having flown throughout November.

The Gatwick announcement coincided with the launch of the government’s test to release scheme, which was criticised as “a mess” after a number of the private suppliers approved to offer tests for traveller said they were unable to cope with demand.