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Fleeing the cold

worldairportrexLONDON — Thousands of Britons are set to travel abroad for Easter following several days of unusually cold weather.

Some 600,000 people are due to leave from Heathrow airport and about 214,000 from Gatwick, while Scottish airports expect more than 100,000 departures.

The Association of British Travel Agents said there was “strong demand” for last-minute overseas holidays.

It follows a bout of cold weather which saw heavy snow in parts of the UK and temperatures hovering around freezing.

Those travelling by rail over the four-day Easter break will have to contend with a number of engineering works, including major work at Reading, in Berkshire, and also work on the West Coast Main Line in the West Midlands.

And rail passengers between south Wales and London can expect their journey to take an extra 90 minutes over the weekend.

Elsewhere, a strike at French ports which was expected to severely disrupt cross-Channel ferry services over the weekend has been called off.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: “After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine.

“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.”

A spokeswoman for Heathrow said the airport was preparing for its “busiest seven days of the year so far, with 1.2 million passengers expected to hop through Heathrow” between today and next Tuesday – up from 1.1 over Easter 2012.

And Gatwick confirmed the total number of passengers travelling through the airport during the Easter break was likely to be around 390,000. (BBC)

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