Christmas at airport for Europe's stranded travellers

Hundreds of travellers trapped by icy weather spent Christmas Day queuing for flights in Europe on Saturday after sleeping on camp beds overnight in Paris and Brussels airports.

Travel disruptions this month have upset year-end travel for hundreds of thousands of people and raised questions about the air industry's lack of preparation for icy weather.



Flight schedules were returning to normal in Paris, thanks to fresh deliveries of de-icing fluid from Germany and the United States.



But many people were still set to miss Christmas dinners at their destinations. Travel chaos was compounded by disruptions to high-speed trains and clogged roads from England to Sweden in one of Europe's snowiest Decembers.



"We already had a nightmare in England and now this here," one man groaned on France's LCI television.



Airports operated largely normally in Britain, Belgium and Germany on Saturday, although there were some cancellations in Frankfurt and Zurich. Several hundred people had slept overnight in Paris and Brussels airports, or in nearby hotels.



At Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, staff handed out instant coffee and pastries for breakfast on Saturday and Transport Minister Thierry Mariani told passengers he would look into what caused an acute shortage of de-icing fluid.



At least 300 people slept on military-style beds at Roissy on Friday after some 400 flights were cancelled. More slept at nearby hotels, where authorities had reserved 3,300 rooms.



While some people cried into mobile phones as departure boards showed long lists of cancellations, others prayed at a mass held at the airport to be able to get on their flights.



A few brought champagne to drink from plastic cups and ate improvised Christmas Eve suppers of smoked salmon, salad, fish pate and cheese cubes, surrounded by suitcases, as a Santa Claus handed out sweets, toys and dolls to children.



"The weather is unpredictable," said Mariani, who arrived at Roissy shortly after midnight on Friday. "You can go to all the effort you like but at the end of the day it's the weather."



The cold weather was also likely to have hit British retailers in December, a survey showed. [ID:nLDE6BO02D]



The French government has come under fire for a failure to cope with a sudden snowfall this month that left thousands of motorists stuck in cars overnight around Paris, and for a shortage of de-icing fluid at airports that forced 2,000 people to sleep in airport terminals on Thursday night.



Paris airports authority chief Pierre Graff said it had been hard to ramp up local supplies of de-icer because only 5 percent of production at factories of the chemical goes to airports.



"Of course I feel responsible," he told LCI television.



Brussels' airport had laid out camp beds for a few hundred people on Friday, but in the end only fifty spent the night there, said airport spokesman Jan Van der Cruysse.



"We are back to normal now. There some delays still but a lot of airlines have also added extra flights to compensate for yesterday," he added.



In Britain, snow delayed tens of thousands of passengers this week. Despite bitter overnight temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius (-0.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of Scotland and England, there was little new snow on Saturday.



A spokeswoman for London's Heathrow Airport said only a handful of flights would be cancelled on Christmas Day. The airport will handle some 70,000 passengers on 600 flights.



"There are no snow-related delays today, apart from any cancellations to other airports that aren't open," the spokeswoman said. "As an airport we are operating fine."



Eurostar trains linking London with Paris and northern Europe were not running for Christmas Day but should run a close-to-normal service on Sunday. Eurostar was hit with crippling delays during the week after speed limits were introduced to cope with the snow and ice.



In Germany, 30 cm (12 inches) of snow fell overnight, causing train delays between Hannover and Berlin. Trains to the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, a tourist destination, were axed.



Light road traffic on Christmas Day meant fewer problems were reported, however, and airports were operating normally.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week