South Africa: Private jet swarm strands semi-final fans
Welcome to Africa and the chaos that goes with it. If it had happened to me I may just be a tad upset after forking out so much money and worry to go to a SWC semi-final. Wonder who was at the traffic control helm when this went down?
Hat tip: REXTRUT
Hundreds of fans bound for Durban for the Germany-Spain World Cup semi final missed the game because their flights were unable to land, after air traffic authorities closed the city’s airport because of congestion on the runway caused by private aircraft.
The situation was described as “absolute chaos” by the pilot of one British Airways flight which took off from Cape Town in mid-afternoon but was diverted to Johannesburg.
The baggage hall at OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg was filled with scores of angry fans, some of whom said they had spent up to R10,000 ($1,300) for their semi final tickets. The game saw Spain defeat Germany 1-0 after Carles Puyol scored from a corner in the second half.
Wire services reported that among the VIPs heading for the semi-final by jet were Spain’s King Juan Carlos, South African President Jacob Zuma, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and socialite Paris Hilton.
The BA pilot, who held his plane for around 45 minutes above Durban in the vain hope of getting a landing slot, told passengers he had no choice but to take the plane to Johannesburg because the plane’s fuel was starting to run low.
He announced that the problem was caused by the airport allowing too many private jets to land at Durban, leaving the runways clogged up and unable to accept scheduled flights.
Confusion was heightened at OR Tambo airport by the lack of any senior officials to explain the problem. One junior official said she believed around 15 scheduled flights, mostly from Johannesburg, were unable to land in Durban.
According to one senior director for a major airline, two BA flights and four South African Airways flights were affected as a result of Airports Company of South Africa not having scheduled inbound flights correctly.
Durban’s airport problems, while an embarrassment to tournament organisers and South Africa, are unlikely to damage the impression that this has been a successful and largely trouble-free tournament.
Host cities and the local organising committee, having endured months of scepticism from inside South African and in European media, have won widespread praise from fans and teams.
If anything, the airport chaos will be a more worrying for the city of Durban, which is campaigning to be South Africa’s chosen city in a likely bid for the Olympics.