Fans miss semifinal due to airport snafu

Two planeloads of football fans headed for the World Cup semifinal between Spain and Germany were forced to miss the match after they were turned away from Durban’s King Shaka international airport on Wednesday.

Three other planes were allowed to land but the severe delays caused supporters to miss at least the start of the match, airport operations director Bongani Maseko told The Associated Press.

Maseko said around 300 fans were on the planes diverted away from the Durban airport, while more than 300 more were affected by the delays.

He said the problem was caused by the large numbers of supporters arriving at the airport for the World Cup semifinal.

Three planes were eventually allowed to land and the passengers were given a police escort to the stadium, though too late for many fans to see Spain’s 1-0 victory, Maseko said. Two other planes – one from Johannesburg and one from Cape Town – were diverted to Johannesburg, he added.

Maseko apologized to supporters who missed the game.

Delays caused by weather earlier in the day had been compounded by the high number of aircraft trying to land, Maseko said.

"It means a lot to me that there were fans who might have flown from Germany or Spain with a World Cup ticket," he said. "We are very mindful of that. Some fans certainly missed at least the start of the match. If you look at the numbers in the stadium it’s not a lot, but we would like to apologize for any inconvenience."

It is not clear exactly how many passengers were on each plane or how many of the passengers were headed for the match.