Easter Bank Holiday: Heathrow Airport Prepares For 'Busiest Day' As Travel Chaos Looms

Posted: 30/03/2012 06:36 Updated: 30/03/2012 06:45   PA

Heathrow

The Easter getaway begins in earnest today with the UK's biggest airport, Heathrow, expecting its busiest day of the whole holiday period.

While road users face uncertainty about fuel supplies, those on the move by rail will have to contend with restricted services on some routes due to engineering work over the bank holiday period.

And those flying from Stansted Airport in Essex will face a strike by baggage handlers on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday.

Roadworks have been suspended on some motorways and major roads over Easter, but restrictions remain in place on a number of busy routes.

Heathrow expects to handle 220,000 passengers on Friday, with the west London airport handling more than 1.6 million between today and Good Friday and a total of 3.4 million between today and Sunday 15 April.

Gatwick in West Sussex expects to see around 1.5m pass through the airport between today and 15 April.

Dublin is Gatwick's number one destination, followed by Malaga in southern Spain.

The third most-popular destination is Milan - the first time that the Italian city has featured in Gatwick's Easter top 10.

The Passenger Shipping Association reported a rush for car bookings this weekend.

Irish Ferries is expecting to carry 50% more people on their ferries from Holyhead to Dublin and from Pembroke in Wales to Rosslare in Ireland this weekend than they did this time last year.

The Highways Agency said roadworks at 272 English locations would be completed ahead of the bank holiday weekend, with 15 sets of roadworks and lane restrictions suspended.

The suspensions will last from 6am on Thursday April 5 until midnight on Easter Monday April 9.

Sites where roadworks will remain for safety reasons include 22 miles of the M1 near Luton in Bedfordshire, an 11-mile stretch of the M25 near St Albans in Hertfordshire, 11 miles of the M4 near west London and 23 miles of the M62 near Leeds.

The Highways Agency said Maundy Thursday evening, 5 April, and Easter Monday afternoon were likely to be the busiest periods over the bank holiday weekend, especially on the main holiday routes, as people set out and return from short breaks or day trips.

Rail travellers will once again have to put up with Easter engineering work, with nearly every train company having to bring in buses to replace services on some routes.

However the Association of Train Operating Companies and Network Rail have said the vast majority of passengers will be unaffected by the Easter work.

Among the spots where engineering work will take place is at Waterloo station in London, with South West Trains services affected.

Travel site Expedia said it had seen a 50% surge in domestic-trip bookings this Easter compared with Easter last year.

London was the top destination followed by Edinburgh, the Cotswolds, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Top overseas destination was New York, followed by Paris, Berlin, Rome and Barcelona.

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Filed by Michael Rundle  |