Athens braced for storm

ATHENS - Athens International Airport (AIA) yesterday announced emergency plans to deal with around 34 000 English and Italian fans arriving for the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan on May 23.

ATHENS - Athens International Airport (AIA) yesterday announced emergency plans to deal with around 34 000 English and Italian fans arriving for the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan on May 23.

The measures include providing special bracelets to identify rival supporter groups and keep them apart.

"Fans will be given coloured bracelets upon arrival in order to facilitate their gradual return to the airport," AIA said.

To prevent a chance encounter between the two teams' supporters, Liverpool fans will be forwarded to the Olympic Stadium on buses while Milan fans will travel on the suburban railway.

An extra 300 airport security staff and 120 volunteers will be brought in to handle the additional traffic which could exceed the volume of planes recorded during the Athens 2004 Olympics, the airport said.

British and Italian consular officials will also be on hand at the airport to provide assistance, AIA said.

In total, 100 charter flights from Britain and 80 flights from Italy will arrive in Athens between May 21 and 24, in addition to regular flights and 106 private jets carrying VIP guests.

"On May 24, passenger traffic is expected to be 20 percent higher than the 68 000 passengers recorded at the height of the Olympics on August 30 2004," the airport said.

Each club has received 17 000 tickets for its fans, and a further 9000 tickets were sold by European governing body Uefa by online ballot. - Sapa-AFP

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