Morocco-Qatar special World Cup flights cancelled: airline

Morocco supporters pose prior to the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final football match between Morocco and Portugal at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Morocco's national carrier announced Wednesday that some special flights operated by it Qatari counterpart to Doha had been cancelled for fans seeking to watch the World Cup semi-final.

Morocco are the first African or Arab national team to reach this stage of a World Cup, beating giants Spain and Portugal on the way, and they play France in Doha on Wednesday night.

Youssef En-Nesyri (C) of Morocco celebrates after scoring a goal in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals against Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, December 10, 2022. (Photo: CFP)

Euphoric supporters have booked plane tickets from Casablanca to Doha, and many have already arrived, but without match tickets, which they have told AFP they were supposed to receive on arrival.

After Morocco qualified for the semi-final, the national carrier decided to organise 30 special flights on Tuesday and Wednesday between Casablanca and Doha.

But "following the latest restrictions imposed by the Qatari authorities, Royal Air Maroc regrets to inform clients of the cancellation of their flights operated by Qatar Airways," Royal Air Maroc said in a statement, without elaborating.

The cancelled flights impact "2,100 passengers," a separate source, who wished to remain anonymous, told AFP, adding that 23 other flights operated by RAM are still planned.

In Doha, Moroccan supporters who arrived on the first of the special flights said on Tuesday afternoon that the Moroccan football federation had promised them match tickets on arrival at the airport, but that these tickets had not yet materialised.

On December 2, Qatari authorities dropped a previous requirement that arrivals in the country present a match ticket upon entry.

But a message posted by Hamad International Airport on Wednesday morning urged supporters "not to go to the two airports (of Doha) until they have obtained tickets for the upcoming matches".

"We remind supporters that Hamad International Airport in Doha is not the official site for obtaining tickets for World Cup matches," the message added.

Videos posted on social networks showed groups of Moroccan supporters blocked by Qatari security officials at the airport.