Women’s hockey team undone by visa goof-up
An alleged goof-up on part of the travel agents, Balmer Lawrie Ltd, and German national carrier Lufthansa has resulted in the Indian women’s team being denied permission to board the flight to Frankfurt on way to Kazan (Russia) for an international tournament.india Updated: Jun 19, 2009 00:09 IST
An alleged goof-up on part of the travel agents, Balmer Lawrie Ltd, and German national carrier Lufthansa has resulted in the Indian women’s team being denied permission to board the flight to Frankfurt on way to Kazan (Russia) for an international tournament.
The team reached the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Wednesday night but Lufthansa did not allow it to board the flight, as it didn’t have the transit visa for Frankfurt, where the team was to wait for 10 hours for the connecting flight.
The team was on its way to participate in the inaugural Champions Challenge II, the first qualifying event for next year’s elite Champions Trophy to be held from June 21 to 27.
The end result is that the team will now get less time to acclimatise to the conditions before an important tournament.
The team will now take a direct flight late on Thursday night to Kazan via Moscow and will reach just in time for their opening match.
Though many blamed Hockey India for the goof-up, some suspected the power struggle between a senior Indian Women’s Hockey Federation (IWHF) official and the newly formed Hockey India as the reason for the occurring. However, chief coach MK Kaushik blamed the travel agents for the incident.
“It has got nothing to do with Hockey India. The mistake is on part of the travel agent,” said Kaushik.
“When the team manager went to the IWHF office to collect the tickets and other documents, a Balmer Lawrie representative informed us that there was no need for transit visas.
But when the team reached the airport, it was asked for transit visas. We got in touch with Mohd Aslam Khan around midnight and he made the alternate travel arrangements,” said Kaushik.
Aslam Khan said the confusion was because of a miscommunication between Lufthansa and Balmer Lawrie. “Lufthansa first said there was no need for transit visas but later retracted.
“We were let down by Lufthansa’s misleading position. We blame Lufthansa for misleading us. We are upset that the members of the Indian women hockey team and the support staff had to go through such a lot of inconvenience,” Aslam added.