The Costa del Sol celebrated England's 'Freedom Day' on Monday with nearly sixty take offs and landings between Malaga Airport and the UK.
The lifting of the ten-day quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated UK holidaymakers returning to England from Spanish destinations has seen the number of flights double compared with the previous month.
This new daily rate of between 50 and 60 connections is around a third of the volume of operations registered between Malaga and the UK in the summer of 2019, the year before the pandemic.
The lifting of quarantine regulations for travellers returning to England from amber-list countries, albeit only those who have been fully vaccinated through the British NHS system, was the main topic of conversation among holiday industry staff at the airport on Monday.
Miguel, a Nerja taxi driver who was waiting for a couple arriving from Liverpool to take them to the Balcón de Europa hotel, was hopeful. "It seems that things are livening up. Let's hope that finally we can be clear about the restrictions; we've been without work for more than a year."
Not far away it was a pleasant surprise to see the holiday giant TUI had set up its banners to greet its customers; and the private transfer information desk for Jet2.com passengers was operating after the airline's year-long absence from the Costa del Sol airport. The fifth most important airline for Malaga in terms of passenger volume was back in action on Monday with flights from Birmingham and Leeds.
A young Jet2.com representative said that they were keen to get started again, "just as our customers are keen to get back to the Costa del Sol".
In less than an hour as many as seven flights arrived from UK airports, bringing tourists from London, Liverpool, Southend and Glasgow, as well as the aforementioned Leeds and Birmingham.
The general hum of the arrivals area was interrupted by the cries of excitement coming from a group of girls, finally enjoying the delayed reunion with their friend from Malaga who had been at their school in England.
"We've been waiting two years to meet up again," they said before heading off to Marbella. "We've got a week to be together," they added.
With the same excitement but less commotion, an elderly passenger arriving from Liverpool only had eyes for a two-year-old girl he picked up in his arms and didn't stop cuddling. He was double-jabbed, he said, and here to enjoy ten days on the Costa del Sol.
Meanwhile a couple on the London flight heading for Fuengirola said it was "time to come back to the Costa", where they "feel at home, or better".
The feeling of relief at being able to return to a favourite destination has also come as a relief for the tourism industry on the Costa del Sol, which depends so much on British visitors who normally make up 30 per cent of the arrivals at Malaga Airport.
Meanwhile hoteliers spoke of an upturn in bookings, although they are sticking for the time being to their forecasts of 58% occupancy in July and 62% in August.