UEFA Champions’ League Final day – May 27th 2009 – was a busy one for Air Charter Service. A total of 19 commercial aircraft and a fleet of executive jets were organised by ACS to transport close to three and a half thousand Manchester United supporters to Rome, where the final was being held. Working with the official travel partner to Manchester United, ACS sourced aircraft not only for the fans, but also for the players’ families, VIPs, staff, executives, press and even the team themselves.
Planning travel arrangements started before most people had even thought about the final. Some Manchester United fans started phoning in with price and availability requests whilst still at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium at half time in the second leg of the semi final. “Of course we were prepared for this” said Jon Thompson, Commercial Sales Director. “But the following morning was chaos!” he continued.
Manchester airport was obviously an exceptionally busy place on the day of the final, and it was a huge task to make sure everything ran to schedule, and to keep everyone happy. So ACS had five staff from their passenger department on the ground in both Manchester, and later in Rome, to make sure everything ran smoothly.
Thompson, along with Steve Huddlestone, Sports Manager, travelled to Rome the week before the final to have a meeting with the director of the airport to make sure everything went according to plan on the Italian side of things. Thompson commented that the whole operation was a “great success”, and added “it worked like clockwork – our attention to detail in the planning and preparation really paid off. We’ve done many charters for sports and football clubs in the past so we knew what we’re doing. We even go as far as liaising with the team’s nutritionist for the team’s special dietary requirements in the catering."
Unfortunately for everyone travelling on the aircraft that day, the actual football match did not turn out so favourable, as strikes from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi saw Barcelona win the match 2-0.