At least 1,000 Liverpool fans have had their hopes of watching their team play live in the Champions League final dashed in what the city’s mayor Joe Anderson has called an “utter shambles”.
The cancellation of four flights due to insufficient landing spots at Ukraine’s Boryspil Airport means that many fans are now be unable to get to the match which will take place in the city of Kiev in Ukraine on Saturday.
Operator Worldchoice Sports cancelled three flights and Liverpool said a further flight booked through Myriad Travel and Crown Travel was also called off.
One further flight travelling with operator Worldchoice Sports was rescheduled, allowing about 300 fans to make it for the game.
Mr Anderson wrote on Twitter before the latest cancellation: “Hugely disappointed that our efforts to sort #LFC fan flights has not worked. (Mr Klitschko) and airport directors did all possible with landing slots and planes but not able to get over the line. Frustrated by utter shambles faced by loyal fans.”
Mr Anderson said he was “gutted” after talks with the mayor of Kiev, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, failed to provide a solution because they were unable to find a crew for a back-up plane.
The Liverpool mayor posted messages on Twitter earlier on Thursday and Friday stating that he was trying to find a carrier to provide flights from John Lennon airport.
In a video posted at around midday on Friday, he said: “We’ve had more discussions this morning with the mayor Klitschko and also the director of the airport.”
He added: “They’re trying to look if we can use an airport nearby, either to get an Airbus in there, one of the big ones, or some smaller crafts in there either today or tomorrow.
“We’re working really hard behind the scenes trying to do things.”
At 4pm he tweeted to suggest that the plan he was trying to hatch with Mr Klitchsko, who turned to politics after retiring as a three-time world heavyweight champion, looked doomed to failure.
He said: “No final decision yet but really not looking good – unable to resolve flight situation.
“With support of @Vitaliy_Klychko, #Kievairport & carrier we had plane & landing slot but crew were coming from the USA and crew rest time a huge barrier.
“Time against us.”
He had previously said his office was in talks with a carrier that could put on “two or three flights” from Liverpool to Kiev on Saturday.
He said: “The mayor (of Kiev) has said he will lay on transport to take people to the grounds which is about 40 minutes away.”
Mr Anderson finished: “That’s what I’m hoping. I can’t confirm or promise anything 100%.”
Liverpool announced on Friday that anyone who bought match tickets direct from the club and had been affected by the cancelled flights would be able to claim a refund.
Worldchoice Sports said due to the amount of flights heading to Ukraine ahead of Liverpool’s meeting with Real Madrid, Boryspil Airport had been unable to allocate times for the three planes.
In a statement tweeted on Friday, it said: “With no accommodation in Kiev being available it was decided that in such a short space of time it would not be possible to utilise this slot and risk the safety of our customers.”
It added: “We can’t apologise to our customers enough about the situation they find themselves in.
“We feel terribly let down by Kiev airport and can assure all customers affected will be getting a full refund over the next seven days.”
Hundreds of disappointed fans aired their frustrations on Twitter, with one writing: “This was the biggest game of my life. Games like this come along every 10 years if you’re lucky, I should be excited and instead I’m just gutted.”
Liverpool fan Daryl Oprey told Sky News: “We’ve seen it before at large football tournaments – the actual fans who pay week in week out get very little allocation.”
He went on to explain that after Liverpool won its place in the final, the cost of the flights skyrocketed from several hundred pounds to £1,000.
From – SkyNews