Global General

Heavy snow hits air travel, roads in Europe

Updated: 2010-12-19 19:04
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Heavy snow hits air travel, roads in Europe

Airline travellers sleep at Zaventem international airport near Brussels December 18, 2010. Heavy snow and freezing temperatures caused travel chaos across northern Europe on Friday, with about 1,500 passengers being stranded for the night in Brussels due to bad weather conditions. [Photo/Agencies] 

PARIS - Heavy snow and freezing temperatures shut down European runways and slowed road traffic Sunday, canceling flights and leaving cars skidding down icy streets.

Heavy snow blanketed Paris - a rarity that has occurred several times in recent weeks in an unusually cold winter. A quarter of flights were canceled at Charles de Gaulle airport until at least 4 pm local time.

London's Heathrow Airport was not accepting any arrivals Sunday and was allowing only a handful of departures after snow and ice forced the closure of runways, but was preparing for a full reopening Monday, a statement on its website said.

Heavy snow hits air travel, roads in Europe

A car that crashed is seen on the snow-covered A5 motorway near Frankfurt after heavy snowfall December 19, 2010. [Photo/Agencies] 

"We are extremely sorry for the disruption," the statement said, urging passengers to check with their airline before traveling to the airport. Several hundred workers were doing their best "to keep passengers in the terminal as warm and as comfortable as possible while we do everything we can to get Heathrow moving."

At Frankfurt airport, Germany's biggest, more than 500 flights were canceled Sunday out of a planned total of 1,330 departures and arrivals.

While the runways at Frankfurt itself were clear, flights were disrupted by problems elsewhere in Europe, with some passengers left waiting for their flights since Friday. Germany's Lufthansa canceled several domestic and regional services to and from its main hub, though long-haul flights were little affected.

In Amsterdam, Schiphol spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said the airport's snow plow teams had cleared three runways and planes were arriving and leaving. However, because of problems at other European airports some 30 flights had been canceled by late morning.

Delays and cancellations also forced about 700 passengers to sleep on camp beds at the airport Saturday night, Snoerwang said.

Ireland was battered by its worst snow in decades Saturday, but airports in Belfast and Dublin remained open though warning on their websites of cancellations and delays. Significant numbers of domestic and European flights were canceled at Saturday Germany's Frankfurt airport as it dealt with the disruption. Airports in Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark also reported cancelations or delays to flights Saturday.

Horse racing meetings and dozens of soccer games in England and Scotland were called off as a result of the conditions, including a high profile match scheduled for Sunday in London between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Bad weather also forced the Dutch football association to postpone the league classic between archrivals Ajax and Feyenoord.