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1.8m Britons to fly on bank holiday

The August bank holiday weekend will see an estimated 1.8 million holidaymakers head off from the UK to overseas hotspots, with Spain the top destination for Britons. Particularly popular are Spain's Balearic and Canary Islands, while Barcelona is also a popular choice for people taking a long-distance break from August 23-26.

The figures for those flying off come from Abta, the Association of British Travel Agents, a body for tour operators and travel agents. Other overseas countries which Britons have set their sights on are France, the Greek islands and Turkey, but other top break destinations - in cities - include Paris, New York, Berlin, Dublin and Amsterdam. In England, airports have issued their figures for passengers expected to fly out. They amount to 425,000 from London's Heathrow Airport, 255,000 from Gatwick, 125,000 fromStansted Airport, 70,000 from Luton Airport, and 15,000 from Southend in Essex, so airports in south east England can expect a very busy weekend. The bank holiday weekend is always one of the busiest of the year as people fly off to make the most of the end of their summer holidays, said Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of Abta.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Ofcom wants broadband in the sky

Air passengers could soon benefit from faster internet under new plans revealed by Ofcom.

The communications regulator is considering the introduction of high-speed broadband on flights, which is 10 times faster than the speed currently available. If the proposals go ahead as planned, operators at airports in the UK, including the likes of Stansted and Luton, would be able to use the technology from early next year. Ofcom believes business users and holidaymakers who want to stay connected while travelling would benefit from the move.

Long-haul operators in the country are not expected to take part in the consultation process, although they may use the technology if demand warrants it. The regulator cites “increasing interest” in broadband use on moving vehicles as a reason for the proposals. In the document, called Earth Stations on Mobile Platforms, Ofcom also outlines intentions to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi on ships and trains.

Virgin has welcomed the move to significantly increase browsing speeds on planes, claiming it is all for any development "to enhance customer experience”. A spokesman for the airline added: “Our current focus is a Wi-Fi trial across some of our long-haul flights, which we hope to roll out more widely next year.”

Copyright Press Association 2013

Britons desperate for sunshine

As the cold weather lingers, around 1.7 million Britons will jet off this Easter in search of sunnier climes.

One of the coldest March months on record has prompted many people to snap up last-minute offers, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). Destinations such as the Canary Islands, Majorca, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey are proving popular with getaway Brits, while Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York top the city breaks chart. France and Austria, meanwhile, are the most popular ski-destination countries.

A total of 600,000 departures are expected from Heathrow airport over the Easter period, 110,000 from Manchester, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton. Gatwick is preparing itself for 214,000 departures, with Barcelona, Geneva and the southern Spanish city of Malaga listed as its top destinations.

In addition, airports across Scotland will see more than 100,000 departures up until April 2. “After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine,” said ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer. “We’ve seen a surge in last minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years.”

Copyright Press Association 2013

Asia and Pacific ‘most open’ places

Asia and the Pacific could be the places to head for globetrotters still mulling over where to go first as they head to Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick on bus or coach.

For research by the United National World Travel Organisation (UNWTO) has found those regions are the world’s most "open" for tourists when it comes to having to have a visa to visit. And the organisation says that could have knock-on benefits for those regions’ economic growth.

Only a fifth of world travellers need a special visa to enter countries in Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO found, with 20% of the world’s population not requiring a visa to visit countries in Asia. A further fifth can get a visa when they arrive and another 8% are able to get one online before setting off on their travels.

Although 21% of the world’s population do not need a visa to visit destinations in Europe, a lot fewer can get one on arrival or in advance online, making it the "least open" to tourists, the research found. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO’s secretary general, said tourists could be put off visiting some countries or regions by nations imposing strict entry requirements. He added: “An overall restrictive visa policy means lost opportunities for economic growth and jobs, which tourism could bring to destinations.”

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Airline reveals Slovenia flights

Budget airline Wizz Air has announced a new route from London Luton Airport to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, with flights set to begin in the autumn.

The Eastern European airline revealed the flights alongside another route to Ljubljana, flying from South Charleroi Airport, located around 45km outside the Belgian capital of Brussels.

The flights out of London Luton will operate three times a week, with many people likely to be arranging airport transfers ahead of booking tickets for holidays that take in the sights and sounds of the Slovenian capital.

The move means people will be able to take advantage of a year-round link between the Adriatic destination and London, opening up a convenient link for businessmen and Slovenian ex-pats living in the UK.

Daniel de Carvalho, corporate communications manager at Wizz Air, said: “We are excited about this new route from London-Luton to Slovenia, which in the current recession really is something to celebrate.

"We are focused on delivering value for money flights for business people and tourists travelling to/from London and this new route to the Slovenian capital means that these travellers can now take advantage of low fares on yet another Wizz Air route.”

Wizz Air offers budget flights on more than 220 routes across Europe, with all inclusive one-way flights starting at £23.99.

Copyright Press Association 2012