South East Wales

Cardiff Airport set for Champions League final influx

A temporary hangar at Cardiff Airport

An extra 24,000 passengers will pass through Cardiff Airport in 24 hours this weekend as fans arrive for the Champions League final.

It will receive the majority of passengers flying into the UK, while rail services are also braced for an influx of fans.

About 170,000 people are expected to make the trip to Cardiff to watch Real Madrid take on Juventus on Saturday.

Cardiff Airport's air traffic service said the operation was unprecedented.

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Media captionCardiff Airport's Daryl Rowlands said the airport was ready for the extra flights and passengers

About 100 private jets from Budapest, Paris, Madrid and the Middle East will land at the site in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan, over the weekend, and 11,000 temporary parking spaces are being created.

In preparation for the event, air traffic control staff visited Milan Malpensa Airport to learn how workers there coped with the increased number of flights when the city hosted the final last year.

Daryl Rowlands, from Cardiff Airport's air traffic services provider NATS, said: "We're expecting a hundred business jets to be parked on the south side of the airport that's far in excess of our normal number, the handling agent on the south side has a really good plan for fitting all those in together, so it will be a sea of aircraft to the south of the runway."

Meanwhile, Arriva Trains Wales said its entire fleet of 127 trains should be operational but some rail replacement busses would operate in north Wales as a result.

Great Western Railway (GWR) said 21 high-speed trains would leave for London after the game, with 60,000 people expected to pass through Cardiff Central station on Saturday.

Mark Youngman, of GWR, said: "Passengers on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday can expect the trains to be busy throughout the day, carrying 15,000 people from London is probably 50% more than we've ever carried for an event here."

Image caption Fans complained about long queues at some Rugby World Cup games in 2015 and arrangements were later improved

Network Rail staff have been practicing for the final during major events, with "lessons learned" to prevent a repeat of the long queues seen at Cardiff Central following a Rugby World Cup match in 2015.

Its Wales route managing director, Andy Thomas, said: "So lessons learned that we've built into this is how we've managed the crowds, how we deliver with recovery should there be an incident and working really collaboratively with the partner networks - which we've been doing for some months now to ensure that we get the best experience for all those travelling on the network."

But while extra services have been added with trains running until 04:45 BST from Cardiff to Swansea, Hereford, Newport and Gloucester, not all trains will stop at smaller stations.

Image copyright Arriva Trains Wales

Arriva Trains Wales director Lynne Milligan said that "60,000 rail journeys around Cardiff are expected to be made on 3 June, and in order to support this, we have had to take difficult decisions about how to provide this additional capacity".

"We want to do everything in our power, in conjunction with our partners, to make this historic event a success, and would encourage customers to check online to see how their journeys may be affected in order that they can plan around our service changes," she said.

With most of the city's accommodation booked up months in advance, a 1,200-berth cruise ship called MS Magellan will arrive at Newport Docks in the early hours of Saturday.

It will provide accommodation and corporate hospitality for one of the event's sponsor companies.

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