Gatwick airport is set to experience a significant increase in passengers over the Christmas season, with up to 200 flights a day forecast to operate to and from the London airport.

The heightened demand comes after the lifting of the second national lockdown in the UK, and coincides with the launch of the government’s ‘test and release’ system which comes into effect today.

The ‘test and release’ initiative reduces the overall quarantine time for passengers arriving from destinations not included on the travel corridor list if they secure a negative result from a Covid-19 test after five days. The government also recently announced that the quarantine period has been reduced from 14 days to ten days.

Easyjet will be operating up to 75 departures per day from the London airport, while other airlines including Wizz Air and British Airways have also resumed operations.

The airport expects that the top five short-haul destinations will include Barcelona, Dublin, Geneva, Fuerteventura and Tenerife, while St Lucia, Antigua and Barbados will feature amongst its most popular long-haul routes.

Demand, however, is still lower than in pre-pandemic times, with the airport usually seeing over 700 daily flights during the festive season.

In order to increase passenger confidence, the airport has also taken further steps in terms of safety and security. The airport has increased the number of security lanes fitted with UV light technology in its North Terminal, following the launch of the initiative by Smiths Detection earlier this year.

The UV light is applied to security trays to guarantee a 99.9 per cent microbe disinfection rate, ensuring maximum protection and a reduced risk of passing on infection from a high-touch surface area.

Samantha Williams, Chair of the Passenger Advisory Group, commented on the UV treatment of security trays:

“The Passenger Advisory Group welcomes this positive use of innovation and technology, to both protect and reassure passengers as they travel through Gatwick and importantly to help in building back passenger confidence in travel.”

Gatwick airport also opened a Covid-19 testing facility last month for passengers, staff and local residents, while its on-site hotels offer Test and Rest packages. The airport has, however, advised early booking due to high demand for such services.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, commented:

“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.”