Millions to hit the roads for Easter getaways as Port of Dover boss says firm ‘back on top’ of backlogs

Millions to hit the roads for Easter getaways as Port of Dover boss says firm 'back on top' of backlogs

The Easter getaway has started, with 2.6 million car journeys expected on the nation’s roads today.

Good Friday is likely to be the busiest day for travel during the Easter break, with the number of car journeys higher than the two million expected on Easter Monday and the 2.3 million forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Some 20,000 cars are expected to travel through the Port of Dover between Thursday and Easter Monday and the port’s chief executive Doug Bannister said Storm Nelson had already presented challenges.

“We suffered a bit of a backlog overnight because of the weather impacting on sailings,” he told Sky News on Friday morning, “but we’ve got back on top of it”.

He said tourist vehicles were taking around two hours to get through the port’s border controls, but this was likely to improve as crowds thinned out from mid-afternoon.

Dover. File pic: PA

Ferry firm Stena Line said bookings on Irish Sea routes are up 26% on Easter weekend 2023.

Travel trade organisation Abta said airports are reporting “strong numbers”, with 175,000 due to leave from Stansted, 105,000 from Luton, 160,000 from Manchester, 79,000 from Birmingham, and 89,000 from Edinburgh between Friday and Monday.

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Turkey, Dubai and the Canary Islands are the most popular destinations abroad and trips to Dublin are also in demand.

Manchester Airport managing director Chris Woodroofe said expected passenger numbers there were up 7% on the same time last year.

Glasgow predicts more than 90,000 passengers over the four days while Birmingham Airport said it expects a 27.2% increase in departures compared to last year’s Easter period.

Bristol predicts 30,000 holiday trips on Easter Sunday alone, and Liverpool Airport expects around 60,000 passengers over the four days – around 7% higher than last year.

There were no reports of major delays at airports or on rail, although some rail lines – such as the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes – are closed for engineering or construction work.

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On the roads, the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton, and the M3 between the M25 and the south coast were expected to be the most congested.

Weather-wise, the weekend is likely to be unsettled, with a mix of sunshine and blustery scattered showers on Friday, with a risk of thunderstorms in the southeast, the Met Office said.

Deputy chief meteorologist Dan Harris said: “The weather is expected to gradually improve following the widely unsettled spell of the past few days, with a fairly typical mix of spring-like weather across the UK.

“There will be some sunshine, and it will feel increasingly warm for most as the winds become lighter.

“However, the west and especially southwest is likely to see passing showers too, which could be quite heavy and frequent at times.

“Eastern coastal districts are also likely to feel increasingly cold as an onshore breeze develops, threatening persistent low cloud in some areas too.”