Heavy snow hits air travel, roads in Europe

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

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 p.m. 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.

"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. -Ap

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