TENS of thousands of festive passengers will take to the skies over Edinburgh today as the airport gears up for its busiest day of the Christmas period.
Armies of sun-seekers will bid farewell to the chilly Capital with around 130,000 holidaymakers expected to pass through the terminal during Christmas week.
“Gateway” airports at Doha and Istanbul – allowing travellers to fly throughout the Middle East – have emerged as this season’s hot ticket, muscling into top-five lists alongside classic short-haul destinations including Amsterdam, Tenerife and Dublin.
And as the exodus intensifies, passengers bearing gifts have been told to remember strict rules forbidding them from carrying liquid containers holding more than 100ml.
The warning comes after toy guns, jars of marmalade and even snow globes had to be removed from unwitting passengers during security checks.
Travel agents said the figures reflected demand among Edinburgh sunseekers for “guaranteed heat” over the winter without having to deal with the hassle of congested London departure lounges.
Gary Donaldson, franchisee for travel firm GoCruise – whose company also books scores of Christmas flights to international destinations – said: “I think people have got annoyed with having to change in London – the Doha flight is very busy and then goes on to Dubai.
“With Dubai, it’s a decent flight time – maybe seven-and-a-half hours and you’re guaranteed sunshine. Whereas if you go to somewhere like the Canaries, it’s touch and go.
“It’ll be really busy but I would say the figures are what you’d expect – lots of people, particularly those with kids at school, have got to go now.”
Airport bosses confirmed that traditional sun-spots remain popular this Christmas, with Tenerife, Alicante and Barcelona all near the top of the list.
And London and Bristol are among the most in-demand domestic destinations, as thousands flee the Capital to enjoy Christmas dinner with family and friends.
Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport chief executive, said staff were working hard to ensure this year goes off without a hitch.
“Many passengers will be flying off to escape the weather and spend the festive season in sunnier climes but the majority will be staying in the UK and travelling to visit friends and family,” he said.
“We’ve had a very successful year at Edinburgh Airport with more passengers travelling through our terminal than ever before. We’re confident we’ll exceed the ten million mark during the festive season.”
It is thought another 144,000 travellers will pass through the airport over the New Year.