Belfast Telegraph

Kiev Champions League trip nightmare for Northern Ireland Liverpool fans

By Adrian Rutherford and Cate McCurry

Liverpool fans heading from Northern Ireland to Kiev for the Champions League final are facing a travel nightmare.

Jurgen Klopp's side will play Real Madrid in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, May 26.

But supporters flying out of Belfast are facing journeys of up to 24 hours each way and steep costs, with return fares spiralling to more than £650.

Are you heading out for the game? Contact digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph if you have an adventure planned

A search yesterday showed one option leaving Belfast at 6.55am on the day before the game - and not arriving until the following morning.

The 23-hour journey involves three connections - in Birmingham, Dusseldorf in Germany and Antalya in Turkey - before landing in Kiev at 7.55am (5.55am UK time) the next day.

The return home brings an equally arduous trek across Europe.

It leaves at 8.15pm (6.15pm UK time) on Sunday evening, with connections in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Antalya. It is not due back in Belfast until 5pm on Monday.

The total cost of the trip was priced at £662 yesterday.

Thousands of Liverpool fans are expected to make the journey to Kiev, where the Reds are aiming to lift a sixth European Cup against the holders.

They have been allocated 16,626 tickets for the final - but many more are likely to be at the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium or make the journey to savour the atmosphere. Liverpool have a big following in Ireland, and many Irish fans are expected to make the trip.

Kiev's mayor Vitali Klitschko - the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion - said he expects up to 100,000 foreign tourists that weekend.

While the complexities of the journey and the cost are considerable, one Northern Ireland travel agent reported plenty of demand from local fans.

Oasis Travel's Howard Street manager Mark Davidson said: "There's a huge interest in this game.

"Our travel agents work through tour operators who put their own trips together and one local firm is putting together a day trip.

"It's out in the morning and back in the evening and that includes bus fares to the stadium but no match tickets.

"Things are under way to make it simpler for fans to travel there.

"That's a direct flight from Belfast to Kiev.

"That flight is in the region of three hours.

"It's expensive so probably in the region of £1,000 per person. While that's a lot of money, it's a direct flight.

"The only way you can get there without spending a lot of money is go a few days either side of the game and get standard accommodation."

Mr Davidson said the high demand, and complex route, had pushed up air fares.

"Connections for Kiev are usually via other parts in Europe. People will be travelling from Amsterdam so you have two legs to try and fill, that's why the flights are so expensive," he added.

"I have never booked a cheap package to Kiev - you would have to go a few days out and stay a week.

"There's no doubt it's a difficult place to get to.

"It's a costly trip no matter what way you do it. We book very few trips to Ukraine. With the demand it's going to sky rocket.

"If they want to do it in a straightforward way, put your name down for a package."

It isn't only flights that will hit fans in the pocket.

Some of the cheapest hotel prices on offer start at £1,473 per person for each night, while one of the most expensive charges fans a staggering £10,000 a night.

The price of tickets ranges from £48 to £394.

However, some are already appearing on resale sites, with prices of more than £1,000 for a single seat.

Sport, Page 58

Belfast Telegraph

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