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World Cup: Lawsuits likely over airport snafu

July 10, 2010 |  7:17 am

The management agency overseeing South Africa’s airports said it would reimburse hundreds of fans who missed Wednesday’s semifinal in Durban because of runway congestion.

At least 600 fans in six aircrafts missed Spain’s semifinal against Germany after an increase in private jet traffic at King Shaka airport contributed to all the landing and parking slots being filled.

Airports Company South Africa said Friday that it has set aside about $52,000 to be distributed to those affected. The South African press reported Saturday that to claim the money, affected passengers must show their unused tickets to the semifinal.

At least two airlines are considering lawsuits against Airports Company SA, according to media reports. ACSA is the agency that oversees South African airports.

According to news reports, some of the fans who were affected had spent more than $1,300 for semifinal tickets, only to be prevented from attending the game when planes carrying Spain’s King Juan Carlos, South African President Jacob Zuma, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, paparazzi target Paris Hilton and others clogged the runways. Two South African newspapers also reported a plane carrying FIFA officials was among eight planes that failed to adhere to a directive to park at a second Durban airport to clear parking spots for additional landings.

One German fan whose South African Airways flight was turned back because of the congestion was arrested for allegedly assaulting a cabin crew member. The man, identified in the South African media as Jorg Mardos, apparently had semifinal tickets for several people who were awaiting him at the stadium.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

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