Swedish football team saved by flight change

UPDATED: The goalkeeper of a Swedish third division football team which was set to travel on the doomed Germanwings flight that crashed on Tuesday in the French Alps has been speaking to The Local about his near-death experience.

Swedish football team saved by flight change
Swedish goalie Frank Pettersson in Barcelona this week. Photo: Private

The Dalkurd FF team from Borlänge, in central Sweden, was planning to fly home to Sweden on the budget carrier after a trip to Catalonia.

But the team decided their planned layover in Düsseldorf would be too long, so they instead booked themselves onto three other flights flying via Zurich and Munich instead.

None of them took the Airbus A320 which – carrying 144 passengers and six crew from Barcelona to Düsseldorf –  crashed in mountainous terrain in southeastern France killing all 150 on board.

"To all those who have tried to contact us in the past few hours we are home and we are fine. It was another plane. May they rest in peace," goalkeeper Frank Pettersson wrote on Twitter.

But he later told The Local that reports the team had rebooked their flights at the last minute were incorrect.

"We never changed flights…That [Germanwings] flight was an option when we booked the trip from the beginning but the club chose three other flights. Four flights were leaving Barcelona that morning. We had players on three of them. All except the one that was in the accident," he said.

Asked how he felt about his lucky escape he added: "We can't even imagine what the families, relatives and friends of the victims go through right now. All we can do is to send all our thoughts and strength to them on this tragic day."

IN PICTURES: Alps plane crash

The team's sporting director Adil Kizil also described to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that the team had a very close call.

"We were supposed to be on that plane."

"There were four planes that left around the same time and that flew north over the Alps. Four planes and we had players on three of them. You can say we were very, very lucky," he said.

Dalkurd FF is the Kurdish community's club in Sweden, and is followed by supporters from the Kurdish diaspora around the world. Not all the players are of Kurdish origin.

The dead passengers from the Germanwings flight are believed to include Germans, Spaniards, probably Turks, and at least one Belgian national.