RABAT, Morocco: Morocco’s national carrier says seven flights that were meant to take soccer fans to Qatar for Morocco’s historic World Cup semifinal on Wednesday against France have been canceled because of restrictions by Qatari authorities.
Royal Air Maroc, or RAM, earlier this week announced it would organize 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha on Tuesday and Wednesday for fans eager to attend the game. The one-of-a-kind deal would be on sale for 5,000 dirhams ($475) round trip.
However, seven of those flights, operated by Qatar Airways, were cancelled, the airline said in a statement Wednesday to the official Moroccan news agency MAP.
“Following the recent restrictions imposed by the Qatari authorities, Royal Air Maroc regrets to inform its customers of the cancellation of flights provided by Qatar Airways,” it said. “Royal Air Maroc offers its apologies to customers for this inconvenience beyond its control.”
It didn’t specify what restrictions Qatar had imposed.
The Qatari government’s and Doha’s media offices did not immediately respond to requests for details.
Hafsa Mostafid said she had booked a flight to Doha late Tuesday but was turned away at Casablanca airport.
“I could hear commotion coming from those who were willing to go to Qatar but were not allowed to enter the airport,” she said. “I also saw that there were police there to control the situation.”
She said officials at the aiport told travelers that due to the “sheer number of Moroccans currently trapped at the Doha airport without tickets for the match, no planes from Morocco would be flown to Qatar as per directives from the Qatari authorities.”
Morocco is the first African and Arab nation to make it to the semifinals in World Cup history.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Morocco fans already in Qatar lined up for hours outside a stadium hoping to receive free game tickets handed out by the Moroccan soccer federation in coordination with FIFA and the Qatari organizing committee.