Bayern slams authorities over flight delay to Club World Cup

·3 min read

BERLIN — Bayern Munich has slammed local flight authorities in Berlin for a seven-hour delay to the team’s departure to Qatar for the Club World Cup after failing to meet a midnight cutoff for flying.

Bayern board member and former president Uli Hoeneß said on Saturday it was a “scandal without end” that the authorities in Brandenburg refused permission for takeoff around midnight on Friday.

The players and team officials were ready for take off but the Bundesliga leaders were forced to wait until 7 a.m. Saturday to leave, despite having moved their game on Friday ahead by 30 minutes to facilitate the planned 11:15 p.m. departure.

“Because of the unscheduled overnight stay, the crew had to be changed and the plane had to make a stopover in Munich. From there, the plane took off for Doha at 9:15 a.m.,” the club said.

Bayern did not say why clearance for take off had been denied, but the recently opened Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has a ban on flights from midnight to 5 a.m. to reduce disruption to local residents.

The only exceptions to this rule are for emergencies, postal flights, and government flights, the Brandenburg Ministry for Infrastructure said in a statement on Saturday.

“These regulations apply to everyone and must be observed by the responsible authorities,” the ministry said.

“The request for take off clearance for flight QR7402 was made after midnight, at 0:03 a.m., to the responsible German air traffic control. As a result, with a view to the night flight restrictions at BER, German air traffic control did not give take off clearance,” the ministry said.

The ministry said a further application made later in the night for an exemption to the night flight restrictions “could not be granted” as these are only made “if there is a significant public interest that makes the flight necessary or the flight is necessary for the maintenance of public safety and order.”

Hoeness told Bavarian broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk it was a “impudence that the team couldn’t fly off for such an important (tournament) due to a few minutes. It’s incomprehensible.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was also furious over the delay.

“We feel totally mucked about by the responsible people of the Brandenburg political authorities,” Rummenigge told the Bild tabloid. “The authorities don’t realize what they’ve done to our team.”

The flight time from Munich to Doha, Qatar is usually 5 hours, 40 minutes. The team reported that the “journey was difficult” but they landed safely in Doha. Coronavirus tests were administered at the airport, and the players then went straight to their hotel.

Bayern is due to play Egyptian team Al Ahly in the Club World Cup semifinals on Monday and is eying reaching the final on Thursday.

“It’s the grand finale after the Champions League,” player Thomas Müller said. “We want to crown ourselves.”

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martínez were not among the 22 players travelling due to coronavirus infections. Bayern coach Hansi Flick said it was more likely that Goretzka would be able to rejoin the squad in time for the final.

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CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press