Women’s hockey team grounded for lack of German transit visa

June 18th, 2009 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey squad, which was to leave for Russian city Kazan via Frankfurt to play in the Champions Challenge, was not allowed to check in Thursday at the Indira Gandhi International Airport as the players did not have transit visas to land in Germany.
Hockey India blamed the public-sector travel agency and the German airline Lufthansa for the fiasco.

“Despite late intimation from the organisers of the tournament, June 10, Hockey India made all arrangements, including getting Russian visa at a short notice, so that the Indian team could get a few days to acclimatise and train in Kazan,” Hockey India secretary-general Aslam Khan said.

“We had sought all travel related information in advance from Balmer Lawrie Ltd, the travel agency that handles government-financed foreign tours. The travel agency insisted that Lufthansa officials had clearly stated that transit visas were not required to land in Frankfurt.

“However, to our dismay, we were told around midnight Wednesday that Lufthansa officials at the IGI airport had refused to allow the team to board the flight without transit visas.”

Aslam said the team had to spend a couple of hours in Frankfurt before taking the flight to Kazan.

India are among the 12 countries which need German transit visa to land at the Frankfurt airport.

“We were let down by Lufthansa. We have asked Balmer Lawrie Ltd for an explanation for the fiasco. We are upset that the members of the team and the support staff had been inconvenienced,” he said.

The team will now leave for Kazan via Moscow in the early hours of Friday for the tournament June 21-28.

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