A pilots’ strike has hit Everton FC fans hoping to travel to Kiev.
Blues fans travelling with German airline Lufthansa were told their flights out to the Ukraine capital tomorrow for the Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev had been grounded.
Strike action was announced by pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit, leading to the cancellation of 750 flights by Lufthansa on March 18.
A statement on the airline’s website said it will be offering alternative flights and affected passengers can refund or rebook their flights free of charge.
But frustrated fans said they have so far not been able to secure a flight that will get them to the game in time for the 6pm (Free £25 bet offer) Kick-off on Thursday.
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Gary Dixon, from Aintree, had been set to fly out for the Europa League Round of 16 second leg with two friends. He said: “There’s three of us who were due to fly out at 6.20am on Wednesday from Manchester.
“My friend checked in online on Tuesday morning and everything was alright.
“Then a mate told us their flight had been cancelled, we went back to check and ours had been too.
“Lufthansa offered my mate an alternative flight going out but they only had space for one, and it would’ve only got him there an hour before (Free £25 bet offer) Kick-off.
“At the minute we’re not going now.
“As well as the flights we’d booked train tickets, transfer from the airport and the hotel.
“We’ll probably get a refund on the flights but it’s not just that, it’s the fact we travel to watch Everton everywhere, and it’s more than likely we’re not going to be able to go now. It’s so frustrating.”
Meanwhile Carl Knox, a Blues fan from Bicester, near Oxford, is one of a group of eight supporters who have had their flights from Heathrow cancelled.
The group have travelled to all the Europa League group games and spoke to Everton FC reporter Greg O’Keeffe in Russia ahead of the clash with Krasnodar in October.
Mr Knox said: “The lad who’s booked the flights has spent two or three hours on the phone trying to sort it but there’s no solution at the moment.
Everton fan Carl Knox
“We were supposed to be flying to Kiev via Munich at 1.50pm and landing at 10.30pm.
“I’ve spoken to a few lads in Liverpool who are in the same boat. One lad can’t get through to Lufthansa at all.”
Martin Riecken, Lufthansa’s European communication’s director, said: “We are awfully sorry for the trouble this has caused to the fans from Everton FC, our station management and call centre staff has done everything possible to offer everyone affected by the strike alternative solutions, but due to the magnitude of the strike we were not always able to re-accommodate every single passenger according to his or her needs.
“The strike action was announced by the pilot’s union only yesterday night, 10pm, which gave us only little time to respond and to set up a reduced timetable.
“This may explain why the fans were informed only short notice. In total we’ve sent out 48,000 text and email messages to our customers.”
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