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Almost 520,000 passengers travelled through Liverpool John Lennon Airport in May – the first time the Airport has handled over half a million passengers in a single month making May the busiest month in the Airport’s history.

Ongoing growth in passenger throughput was already set to produce a 12% increase in business in May this year compared to last, however the additional boost of handling over 12,000 departing Liverpool fans travelling to Athens for the Champions League Final saw throughput increase by 17% for the period.

In all, the Airport handled an extra 56 departing charter flights that week operated by a wide selection of UK and European airlines, with aircraft as large as Boeing 747′s seen at the Airport for the first time in many years.

The Airport brought in marquees, 28 temporary check-in desks and 15 Arriva buses to ferry fans to aircraft with over 100 additional staff drafted in to help out with ‘Operation Zorba’. The operation was an outstanding success for all organisations involved in processing high volumes of passengers and helping to get fans on their way to Athens, without impacting on the Airports day to day passenger throughput with airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet, Thomson and others. On the morning of the final, some 7,000 fans departed from LJLA on 36 flights.

The Airport has subsequently received much praise from both fans and airlines, aswell as from Merseyside Police for the way in which it implemented detailed plans that had been developed over a number of weeks with work having optimistically commenced ahead of Liverpool’s semi-final victory against Chelsea.

Other highlights in May included the launch of transatlantic services to Toronto and New York with Flyglobespan and Air Malta’s twice weekly scheduled service to Malta.

Andy Gower, Airport Director and the senior Airport person in charge of ‘Operation Zorba’ commented,
“The plans we put into place to accommodate such high volumes of travelling football fans certainly paid dividends. This was very much a team effort involving not only different departments within the Airport Company, but a number of external organisations. The success of this operation was down to the commitment and determination of all involved – including a number of Evertonians! and on behalf of the Airport Company I would like to say a huge thank you to all.

The problems experienced by fans returning via Athens Airport highlighted to many what a professional job had been carried out here.

Whilst the result of the final wasn’t what we wanted, everyone came away from a tiring and demanding week with a great deal of satisfaction for a job well done, which I have no doubt will stand the Airport in good stead for future business growth, having demonstrated to airlines and operators across Europe what this Airport and its staff are capable of.”

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