Hundreds miss semi-final in airport chaos

Thu Jul 8, 2010 3:04pm EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Hundreds of soccer 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 soccer governing body FIFA's executive committee.

The 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 organizing committee, blamed the problem on planes carrying heads of state which, he said, required special conditions which slowed the flow of other aircraft.

"When you transport heads of state, a free zone is required," he said.

"Two hundred and 20 flights came to Durban, especially charters. It was a case of force majeure."

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