Door to destination : How NATS helped 21,000 flying fans get to the game on time ⚽ cardiff UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL: 23 jUNE 2017

How do you safely transport over 20,000 travelling football fans? That was the challenge Cardiff Airport presented to NATS in January this year as they prepared for the UEFA Champions League Final.

The landmark sporting event, held on 3 June, was set to be the largest Cardiff had ever hosted with over 500 extra flights and 21,000 flying fans coming into both Cardiff and Bristol Airports – all of which needed to safely get from A to B in time for the game.

With the airport in the international spotlight, they recognised that, logistically, the project would require a very specific set of skills, so they looked to NATS for a solution...

After a successful discussion with the Research and Innovation team, it was agreed that NATS would build a web based portal for the one-off event.

The goal was to enable airport staff to monitor bus and coach traffic to and from the airport’s temporary terminal two, and keep an eye on flight arrivals/departures over the weekend.

The main aim of this tool was to connect the airport to the wider ground transport network; alleviating pressure from both the airport's internal systems and the city's flow.

✈️ Jason Gill, NATS Industry Domain Expert for Commercial Customer Solutions & Delivery.

The match was between Real Madrid and Juventus

NATS spent the next six months collecting data, trialling different versions and making edits to ensure the portal was up and running in time for match day.

This included three stages:

1. DATA GATHERING - Data was gathered from the airport's Flight Information Display System to allow Flight Operations to check all aircraft were included and that there were no issues with the data.

2. BUS AND COACH DATA - The airport, Swissport and the coach management team took ownership of the tool to manually input all known bus and coach information. This ensured manual input was minimised on match day.

3. OPERATIONAL USE - All stakeholders were given login details to use the service.

A mock up of the tool
This project wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise of NATS’ SPACE Software Development team and the help of Cardiff Airport’s ops team who provided us with invaluable knowledge throughout the process.

✈️ Daryl Rowlands, General Manager of Cardiff Airport’s control tower.

After twelve weeks of work, the tool was put to the test at a rugby Six Nations game between Wales and Ireland. The event organisers recognised how much 'extra time' it gave them and highly recommended it for future use.

The web-based portal allowed airport staff to set the state of air-side buses (taking passengers from aircraft to the terminal) and land-side coaches (taking people from the airport to the stadium) so they could see where everything was at any given time.

Because it was web-based, no new equipment was required to get it up and running. This removed the need for coach drivers to inform the stadium when they were on their way, thus reducing a lot of manual co-ordination! Being hosted online also meant that the tool could be used by several people around the business at once, meaning everyone could see what was going on at the same time.

NATS also added the capability for the tool to calculate the time to the stadium so that not only did the airport know when a coach had departed the terminal, but also the approximate time it would arrive at the stadium.

Travelling fans were then able to leave the airport and be on their way to the stadium within minutes thanks to Temporary Terminal Two, which was erected a short walk away from the main terminal building to cater for the extra passengers.

Temporary Terminal 2

Cardiff Airport was extremely pleased with the results of NATS hard work in designing and implementing this dynamic tool in less than six months.

As well as helping the event run smoothly for airport staff, having better capacity management in place had a knock on effect on the rest of the city and air traffic control operations.

Quick discharge and departures made the speed in which aircraft could get on and off the ground much faster, resulting in more flights and less delay... two things that were crucial to Wales successfully welcoming the world.

"The ATC team were amazing over the weekend – they rose to the challenge magnificently and all ran on rails. The planning tool was incredible as well – it transformed the way we were able to proactively manage such a complex operation. Huge thank you to the Cardiff Airport team and the NATS team for all your support both in the planning and in the delivery of the operation."

✈️ Deb Barber, Cardiff Airport’s Chief Executive.

To emphasise the influx in traffic, this is how Friday before the match compared to a "normal" Friday...

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