Heavy snowfall paralyzes much of European air traffic

Heavy snow in Europe has forced airports in several countries to cancel hundreds of flights...

Airports in European nations such as Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands had to suspend most of their flights due to the heavy snow plaguing the continent. Bad weather has also hampered rail service and highway traffic.

On Monday, heavy snow was affecting many nations of Europe, forcing airports, motorways and railway services of countries like Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands to cancel hundreds of flights.

International Airports such as Zaventem, Brussels, said during the course of day, through its website, there would be possible flight delays before they could  melt snow and de-ice planes, as well as sweeping the snow from runways.

For its part, the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), on Monday reported the cancellation of 40 percent of their flights as a precautionary measure, which had been determined Sunday.

The bus service to Charles de Gaulle, as well as bus and train connections with Orly have been suspended, Aeroports de Paris said.

Also, scores of flights were canceled at Barajas airport in the Spanish capital, and the same situation occurred in the British Heathrow Airport and Frankfurt in Germany.

In Germany, the international airports of Frankfurt and Munich, the largest in the country, announced the suspension of some 300 flights due to ice and snow comditions respectively.

The U.K. Met Office issued an "amber" alert for parts of northern England and Scotland, warning that some areas might have as much as 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) of snow. Some light snow is expected in the same areas Tuesday, with weather forecast to ease across Britain by Wednesday.

Gatwick airport, London's second-busiest hub, said on its website that passengers should expect some delays and check with airlines before traveling. Some services on the direct train from the airport to the capital have also been canceled.

Transport for London, which oversees the U.K. capital's public transport system, said it has 89,000 metric tons of salt stockpiled and de-icing trains are in operation. Two of the city's 11 underground subway lines were delayed, and some overground commuter services are suspended.

According to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, 300 of the 900 scheduled flights had been suspended, while the Dutch airline KLM announced on its website that most of its flights in Europe were canceled.

However, airports in the Russian capital have been one of the few that have not been affected by the bad weather on the continent, although snowfall in Moscow formed a layer of 50 centimeters of snow on the streets .

Meanwhile, the company, Eurostar, which connects high-speed rail in the UK with France and Belgium, canceled some of their connections.

In addition, the consortium warned that Thalys rail traffic could be disrupted between cities like Brussels, Paris and Cologne, Germany.

European rules require airlines to pay for food and accommodation for passengers stranded by cancellations. British Airways (IAG), a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said customers scheduled to travel at this time will not be charged if they choose to delay and rebook. People on canceled flights are being offered the choice of a refund, re-booking or re-routing on another airline, the carrier said.

The weather forecast on the old continent is that the cold snap affecting the region, since January 12, will continue until the end of the month.

Translated from the Spanish version by:

Lisa Karpova


Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey