A sneak peek at Christmas flying in the UK: ACL’s traffic forecast

The festive season is a traditionally busy period for the aviation industry, with over 5 million estimated UK passengers travelling to visit friends and relatives or simply get away for a winter break last year. ACL’s UK airports saw 6,900 air transport movements (ATMs) on 20th December 2019, a 26% increase versus the average day in the W19 season, with the Friday prior to Christmas day typically the busiest day of the period.

Despite a turbulent year for aviation, this year will still see a surge in traffic, albeit with airports expecting to see far fewer flights than seen last year; ACL forecasts that this year will see a 60% reduction in ATMs versus last year for the 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year. Whilst flying volumes for Winter 2020/21 remain substantially diminished, there are still peaks in the schedule for December and January.

Our schedule data currently indicates a week on week increase in ATMs of over 50% for the week beginning 14th December, with further increases seen into the first week of January. We currently forecast that the 18th December, 27th December and 3rd January will be the busiest days over the festive period, with the potential for up to 2,500 ATMs to operate on these peak days.


By Chris Butler

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