A Spanish airline has issued an apology to Lionel Messi after making the astonishing claim that a no-fly zone over the Barcelona legend's house was preventing El Prat airport from expanding.
Marca reported this week that Vueling president Javier Sanchez-Prieto reportedly claimed that the airport's runways were limited “because you cannot pass over where Messi lives," adding, “this doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.”
Vueling released a statement on Saturday clarifying their position and appearing to apologise to Messi, although the Argentinean was not referred to by name.
“Vueling regrets the misunderstanding generated on Wednesday February 28 during the presentation of the company’s financial results during a breakfast at the Barcelona business school ESADE," the statement read.
“In a relaxed context, and in answer to a question from someone who attended [...] Vueling replied that the airport was faced with the challenge of continuing to grow to respond to demand. However, that growth could encounter serious limitations because of environmental issues.
"At the end of the intervention [...] it was said that part of the limitations were due to the fact there was a no-fly zone over some houses, including those of the footballer.
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“We want to stress that it was never our intention to involve the footballer in any controversy and we can state that he has never made any public statement with regards to the airport or its operation.”
It is believed that the no-fly zone actually applies to a nearby estate called Gava Mar, and not to the Castelldefels estate where Messi lives. Messi's team-mates Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho also live on the same estate.
Vueling is a low budget airline based out of El Prat, which is one of Spain's largest airports, second only to Iberia Airport in Madrid.