A Northern Ireland fan from Larne has been left devastated after a French air traffic controllers strike has seen his trip of a lifetime to the Euros thrown into jeopardy.
Ian McKeen, who has been supporting Northern Ireland for over 40 years, was set to fly to Bordeaux from Dublin yesterday (Tuesday) ahead of Michael O’Neill’s sides tie with Ukraine.
But due to a strike involving French air traffic controllers, Ian received news on Monday that his flight had been cancelled.
He said: “I was meant to be flying out with a friend ahead of the game with Ukraine. We were set to meet up with four other friends who are already out in France, but we got a text message from Aer Lingus on Monday to say that our flight was cancelled.
“I am gutted that I’ll not be there at the match cheering on Northern Ireland. I had tickets for both the Ukraine and Germany matches.”
The Dunluce Street butcher continued: “I spent around eight hours on Monday trying to arrange other flights to be there in time for Thursday’s match in Lyon, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get anything sorted.
“I have booked flights from Belfast International to Paris for the Germany match, so I am just hoping that these flights are still on and I get to go and be a part of the Northern Irish support.”
Ian and other fans who missed out on yesterday’s flights are counting up the financial loss from the cancelled trip.
He added: “It will probably be around £1,000 that I’m out of pocket for missing the game once flights, accommodation, travelling in France and tickets are taken into consideration, but I have insurance so hopefully I will be refunded within the next few weeks.
“I will probably head to the fanzone to watch the Ukraine game, but nothing compares to being there and part of the atmosphere with the Green and White Army.”
The strike caused a number of flights between the Republic of Ireland and France to be cancelled.