THE Liverpool squad today jetted off for Athens as the mass
exodus of fans began.
A relaxed Rafa Benitez led the first team squad into John Lennon
airport early this morning for their 10am flight to Greece.
players arrived together on the team bus clutching their ECHO Athens
They were taken
through departures by airport security staff after stopping and
signing autographs for fans.
After the four-hour flight, the Liverpool party were being
taken to their hotel in a secret location on the outskirts of
The squad arrived
at JLA alongside hundreds of fans, with the first supporters’ plane
taking off for Athens at 9.30am.
The Boeing 747
jumbo, carrying 580 fans, was the first of 57 flights leaving the
airport in what will be the airport’s busiest 48 hours.
JLA expect to move 13,500 of the 30,000 Reds expected to decamp
to Athens between now and the match on Wednesday.
About 8,000 fans will leave Liverpool on the day of the match
itself, with 37 charter flights scheduled.
In a bid to reduce disruption to other passengers, marquees have
been erected alongside 20 extra check-in desks as part of the
so-called Operation Zorba.
Extra buses have been laid on to transfer passengers to and from
aircraft, and additional security systems have been put in place.
The John Lennon statue at the airport even joined in the
pre-match atmosphere, decked out in a hat and scarf.
Liverpool fan Sean O'Donnell from Everton was among those on the
first Athens flight out of JLA this morning.
He said: "I'm just looking forward to getting to Athens because I
believe there are already thousands of Reds over there.
"If it's anything like Istanbul it should be some trip.
"The main thing is that the lads come back with the cup though."