Wellington Airport is preparing for its busiest day since the onset of coronavirus, with 19,500 seats booked to and from the capital on December 18.
This was the busiest day the airport had seen in months, comparing to around 14,300 seats on an average day in November.
Throughout the whole month there would be around 467,000 seats in and out of Wellington, which was 90 per cent of the domestic seats in December last year.
The most popular destinations were Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson, Queenstown, Dunedin and Hamilton.
Christmas Day would also be busier than usual this year, with 128 flights in and out of the capital, compared to 107 last year.
Wellington Airport corporate affairs general manager Jenna Raeburn said it was great to see New Zealanders taking advantage of domestic travel over the Christmas period, after such a difficult year in the travel industry.
"It has been a really big shock to the aviation industry and a really hard year for everyone involved, so it's really great to see things pick up over Christmas."
"We've had a lot of months where we've been at 40, 50, 60 per cent domestic capacity, and that means for everyone selling food or coffee in the terminal, or taxi drivers waiting outside, they're feeling that loss too."
The absence of international travel was still a challenge for the airport, with retailers and food and beverage operators within both terminals seeing decreased business.
Raeburn said last December there had been 108,000 international seats scheduled, compared to none this year.
"While we are optimistic, the industry is not back to normal yet, and holiday numbers do not provide an indication of the overall recovery."
The airport would be busy until Christmas, but was expected to taper off again in January.
The airport had welcomed the news this week of travel bubbles with Australia and the Cook Islands and were hoping to open some form of international travel early in 2021.
Over Christmas, Raeburn recommended travellers allow plenty of time to get to the airport, and check-in and book a car space online where possible.
There would also be a range of activities to enjoy at the aiport while travellers waited, such as jazz music, face painting and wine tasting.