England football fans flock to Kiev

Times Series: England fans are racing to reach Kiev in time for Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy England fans are racing to reach Kiev in time for Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy

England football fans have been hunting for the best flights and hotel deals so they could support their team in their Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy in Kiev on Sunday night.

British Airways put on larger aircraft on its Heathrow to Kiev flights on Friday and will do so again on Saturday.

Airline ticket websites showed only a handful of UK to Kiev air tickets still available for travel on Saturday, while hotels reported a big surge in interest in accommodation in the Ukrainian capital from England supporters.

Some fans were determined to travel in style, with private aviation and VIP transport company Avolus reporting a huge increase in the charter of private jets to fly to Ukraine and to Poland, with England due to play a semi-final in the Polish capital Warsaw next Thursday should they beat Italy.

Fans leaving flight bookings to Kiev until the last minute will find that they might well have to take indirect flights.

Among services where a few tickets still remained for UK-Kiev flights on Saturday were Austrian Airlines from Heathrow via Vienna and Alitalia from Heathrow via Rome.

For those hoping to see a possible England semi-final - against either Greece or Germany - there were also only a few air seats left for flights from the UK next week to Warsaw.

Hotels.com said there had been a 190% increase in hotel searches for Kiev and a 104% rise in Warsaw hotel searches.

Kate Hopcraft from Hotels.com added: "England's strong performance coming top of their group seems to have inspired fans to look for last-minute hotels in the quarter and even semi-final venues. We wish the team luck and hope they're encouraged to see optimistic Brits searching for hotels."

Avolus co-founder and chief executive Alexis Grabar said: "Some of the England footballers' partners who have flown to the Euro 2012 finals by private jet are not the only ones travelling to the tournament this way. A number of clients have chartered private jets to do this, and we expect a significant increase in this part of our business as the competition progresses."

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