Fulham fans heartbroken at seeing their team lose the Europa League Final suffered more misery when their flights home were delayed by hours.
After watching the west London side lose 2-1 to Atlético Madrid in extra time, the football supporters faced a race against the clock to get to work today after being stranded overnight in Hamburg where the match was held.
The influx of 25,000 passengers left the airport unable to cope, with complaints of insufficient staff. However the airport blamed the delays on drunk fans who had lost their boarding cards.
London Assembly member Murad Qureshi’s Alitalia flight took off at 5.30am as he raced to get back to City Hall for its annual meeting.
Mr Qureshi said: “Everything was fine until we got through security. It seemed there was no one in charge, even the flight crews couldn’t get on the planes.
“There were problems getting people to the planes, then no steps for passengers to board the aircraft, and none of the staff seemed to know what was happening.” Airlines including easyJet, Jet2 and bmi were meant to leave from midnight bound for Gatwick, Luton and other destinations.
But the final Fulham fans departed at 9am local time. Dawn Dunlop told the BBC: “They decided to bus us out to the plane — 300 people were taken out, but there were only 150 seats. The whole thing has been a complete disaster.” Madrid supporters also had to endure long waits for flights home.
Dozens of extra flights to and from the UK and Spain were laid on for last night’s showpiece final. But logistical problems in the host city were compounded by the volcanic ash cloud and an earlier closed runway. Spokeswoman for Hamburg airport Stefanie Harder said: “We are a normal-sized international airport with about 200 departures and arrivals per day — yesterday we had double that amount. We prepared for the situation but it’s not possible to get 25,000 people on planes at once.”
Earlier in the evening, Hugh Grant and Lily Allen had been among the Fulham followers to watch manager Roy Hodgson’s team just miss out on the trophy.