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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Airports set for Liverpool exodus
Jubilant Liverpool fans
Liverpool fans are hoping for a repeat of the Istanbul success
Airports in the north west of England are gearing up for a busy week as the mass exodus of Liverpool fans to the Champions League final begins.

An additional 57 charter flights have been laid on at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, where more than 13,500 fans will depart for Athens.

More supporters are expected to leave from Manchester Airport, where police say they will target known hooligans.

Liverpool take on AC Milan in the final of the competition on Wednesday night.

Airport bosses in Liverpool have been planning their operation since the semi-finals of the Champions League.

'Busiest time'

They are expecting a dramatic increases in passengers with more than 8,000 expected to travel on the day of the final itself. Increased security and check-in facilities have been drafted in.

Airport Director Andy Gower said: "Over the years, management and staff at JLA have gained a lot of experience in handling large volumes of football fans and in particular two years ago.

"Once again we will be asking that fans allow plenty of time for their journey through the airport and are patient and co-operative during what will be the busiest time in the airport's history.

"We aim to replicate the fantastic carnival atmosphere that accompanied the departure of so many fans last time."

Liverpool John Lennon Airport
An extra 57 charter flights will depart from Liverpool

Although the majority of fans are expected to travel from Liverpool, a number of routes to Athens are available from Manchester Airport.

Greater Manchester Police are targeting known troublemakers with plain clothed intelligence, and uniformed, officers.

A total of 17,000 tickets have been allocated to Liverpool fans and police are urging people who do not have a ticket not to travel.

Ch Insp Chris Ullah, of Manchester Airport Police, said: "As with all operations like this, we are sending out a clear message to people intending to travel to commit violence to think again.

"In past operations, the vast majority of people approached by officers were genuine supporters who were co-operative and understanding, but we have been successful in stopping a number of known hooligans travelling. "

Mr Ullah said the operation would prevent troublemakers "ruining the reputation" of genuine football fans.

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