Hundreds of football fans
missed the World Cup semi-final between Germany and Spain on
Wednesday after chaos at the airport in Durban delayed their
landing or forced planes to turn back, officials said.
The victims included members of football governing body FIFA's
airport disarray was a rare blemish on the so far
successful hosting of the World Cup, held on the continent for
the first time, which has gone without any major glitches.
Some VIP planes, which were
supposed to land at the new
Durban King Shaka International airport and later park at an old
airport some 60 km (40 miles) away, would not move, causing the
chaos, 702 Talk Radio reported, citing the Airports Company
South Africa (ACSA) as saying.
Irvin Khosa, of the local
organising committee, blamed the
problem on planes carrying heads of state which, he said,
required special conditions which slowed the flow of other
transport heads of state, a free zone is
required," he said.
hundred and 20 flights came to Durban, especially
charters. It was a case of force majeure."
Five planes were forced to turn
back to Johannesburg and
Cape Town, while others landed after being delayed by several
hours, leading to fans missing all or most of the mouth-watering
clash between the two European football giants.
ACSA said passengers would not be
reimbursed because the
planes took off and landed at an airport and because only a
small portion of the ticket price was paid to the company.
Stranded passengers, who spent
thousands of rand on flight
and match tickets, were outraged by the situation and some
threatened to sue the airports company for their losses.
"We have done well up to now but
today is a disgrace," one
outraged fan told the radio station.
"The fact that one of our airports
does not even know what
its capacity is, is quite pathetic," said another.
Rich Mkhondo, spokesman for the
World Cup local organising
committee, told Reuters there was nothing the organisers could
do about the incident now.
"Unfortunately, these kind of things happen. We will be
meeting with ACSA later today to make sure this doesn't happen
again during the final," he said.
FIFA general secretary Jerome
Valcke denied reports that
those who missed the game would be entitled to compensation.
"There will be no indemnity, this
is not true," he said.
"It's not our responsibility. What happened at the airport is an
air traffic control problem. We had commercial partners and
executive committee members who could not land in Durban."
Netherlands face Spain in the
World Cup final at Soccer City
in Johannesburg on Sunday.
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