Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said he is confident a solution has been found to help 1,000 fans after their flights to the Champions League final in Kiev were cancelled.
Worldchoice Sports said on Thursday that, with “deep regret”, three flights taking Liverpool fans to Kiev for Saturday’s game had been cancelled.
The operator said that due to so many flights heading to Ukraine ahead of Liverpool’s meeting with Real Madrid, Borispil Airport had been unable to allocate times for the three planes.
Worldchoice added that it had done everything it could to secure slots, but that to “reiterate, the problem IS with Kiev”.
That left upwards of 1,000 Liverpool fans fearing their plans were in ruins, although the club and Mr Anderson are hopeful of working through the problems.
Mr Anderson tweeted to say he was working closely with former professional boxer and now mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko, stating they were “close” to a solution.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Mr Anderson said: “Hopefully we have now found a solution to this and I am confident that it will be resolved.
“Through my intervention and explaining to him that I have got 1,000 Liverpool fans who are destined to travel, who have invested a lot of money and will not only be losing that but hugely disappointed that they are going to miss out and stuff.
“And I thought well, the airport have made that promise, let’s hope that the travel agent can sort out with Ethiopian Airlines now that it is back on again because I think they had cancelled it.
“But I think it is, hopefully, going to be restored and back on and let’s hope that solves the matter.”
Asked if the slots are available and that planes are too, Mr Anderson said: “In fairness to the travel company they wanted to let the fans know as soon as possible that it wasn’t on.
“But, during that time, I have been able to persuade them to pull out all the stops to find slots, so there are two A350 airbus flights going out tomorrow that can arrive and be accommodated in Kiev.”
He later tweeted to say two slots for aircraft booked by Worldchoice Sports have been negotiated for 3pm and 3.45pm on Friday.
“What happens next is up to this company to sort and hopefully they can for all,” Mr Anderson added in his tweet.
Today I worked with .@Vitaliy_Klychko to help and negotiate with the Director of the Airport in Kiev two slots for aircraft booked by World Choice Sports to arrive at 3.00 pm and 3.45 pm. What happens next is up to this company to sort and hopefully they can for all.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) May 24, 2018
Luke Gaudion, a 27-year-old apprentice electrician from Guernsey said his flight has been cancelled and that he is looking at other options.
“I have just heard the mayor of Liverpool and mayor of Kiev are working closely to sort something and save them, although I don’t have much faith at the moment. I’m praying,” he told the Press Association.
He said he found out via Twitter, causing his heart to drop at the revelation.
“I couldn’t put into words how gutted I was,” he added.
“I’ve spent well over £1,000 including my match ticket, non existent flight to Kiev and my flights to and from Guernsey, Channel Islands where I live… plus the massive effort and time I’ve spent making my own banner with help from my girlfriend and friend.”
A statement from Liverpool Football Club said they are continuing to work with all the relevant stakeholders in the UK and Ukraine to attempt to solve the situation.
“Flights chartered by Worldchoice Sports had been set to take supporters to Ukraine, but a dispute between the Widnes-based travel company and the aviation authorities in Kiev over the size of the aircraft has led to the trips being cancelled,” the club said.
Liverpool FC is continuing to work with all relevant stakeholders in order to help resolve the situation that has left around 1,000 fans without flights to Kiev.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 24, 2018
Full statement â¡ï¸ https://t.co/PfsiJZ1DY3 pic.twitter.com/oLUNiHXFqm
Raphi Bloom, a company director from Manchester, is trying to help his 18-year-old son find his way to Kiev after his flights were cancelled earlier today.
“There’s been absolutely no communication. There have been rumours around about the flights but no one has told us anything,” he told the Press Association.
Mr Bloom believes Uefa should bear some responsibility for the “disgraceful” lack of organisation and put pressure on Ukrainian authorities to help fans get to Kiev.
“At the end of the day there must be some other slot availability or a military airport to get fans to,” he said.