So another year, another Champions League... and this one arguably the most stressful one to coordinate since 2008 when two English Teams played in Moscow.
That said, at least in Moscow there were three airports on hand to accommodate the heavy traffic loads of passionate fans travelling en-masse to support their beloved teams.
Fast-forward 11 years and again we see two English teams battling it out for European supremacy with the favourites Liverpool being victorious, but in terms of the Champions League of airports for this event, it was the underdog that came out on top.
Though no fault of Madrid; the idea of UEFA to hold the Champions League in a city with only one airport within a 3 hours radius was slightly ludicrous and then Luton airport's "initial" reaction to impose their night ban, that was thankfully overturned due to someone at the airport using a large dose of the lesser spotted common sense, meant that London's favourite airport was…… yes, Southend !
Never before has an airport really had the chance to shine as much as Southend (EGMC) and shine they did – the airport demonstrating super efficiency handling so many aircraft and equally showing to London based passengers that it really is only 60-90 minutes in to central London; a good number of our passengers actually commenting on how easy it was, even to South London. The train links from Southend were excellent, the roads after midnight all but clear, Southend Airport offered charter brokers, airlines and passengers the chance to arrange flight that got home that same night and avoid paying £500 to sleep on someone's floor through online accommodation booking sites. On the other hand, Madrid Barajas, albeit a major hub, but who had a good 12 months to ensure they we were not surprised when 1500 non-scheduled flights descended on them, struggled to cope and aircraft being sent away for landing and/or parking as far as Alicante……. and then of course the usual bun-fight ensued when the match finished in "normal time". What this did demonstrate is that, while I am half-berating the organisational people at Barajas Airport, there was no telling how many aircraft would come, to be honest, 1500 was way beyond any expectation, but this was because there were two English teams playing and scheduled airlines got booked up within minutes after the semi-final whistle – but it showed that the neither the economy, nor the industry cannot be in such a terrible state if 1500 jets are chartered by mainly English people… crisis, what crisis ? and who said football is a poor man's game ?
Volanteus CEO, an avid Liverpool fan for nearly 40 years, while closely monitoring the game, was also preparing for the final whistle to ensure the flights home were running smoothly, with 50,000 fans all heading to the one airport !
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