Christmas eve chaos as snow strands European travellers

Thousands of travellers were stranded at Paris' main airport Friday as freezing conditions forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, with many passengers facing delays into Christmas Day.

At least 400 flights in and out of Paris' main hub Roissy-Charles de Gaulle were cancelled, with flights in Belgium and Germany also affected and motorists staying off the roads as western Europe battled the latest cold snap.

"Of the 1,160 flights initially planned for during the day today, 200 departures and 200 arrivals have been cancelled," a spokesman for France's civil aviation authority DGAC told AFP.

One flight represents an average of 150 passengers, so the cancellations, largely due to problems de-icing aircraft, will affect around 60,000 people.

Junior transport minister Thierry Mariani said that airports were struggling to deal with the third bout of ice this month, with problems compounded by workers at France's main anti-freeze factory at Fos-sur-Mer being on strike.

A cargo plane carrying glycol from the United States arrived at Charles de Gaulle early Friday, an airport source said, with trucks bringing more anti-freeze from Germany due to arrive later in the day.

While rail operator SNCF said all Christmas trains would be running, around 40 passengers spent the night on a train stuck in the snow in the northern Somme region, with the Red Cross supplying them with blankets and hot drinks.

Many northern provincial roads were impassable by car, authorities said, and people were advised to stay at home.

Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet warned that the flight delays could extend into Christmas Day for up to half of passengers at Charles de Gaulle.

Of those unable to travel, some local people returned home, others were put up on nearby hotels and two gym halls were opened by local authorities.

At the airport, officials set up hundreds of camp beds for passengers with nowhere else to go.

"It's unacceptable!" protested Zakaria Talhaoui, 29, who had been due to fly to Casablanca, Morocco, for his brother's wedding.

"Everyone's blaming each other, the company, the airport management," said his tearful wife, Malika.

"They've been giving us the runaround all day in the airport without taking into account the fact that I'm pregnant," she added.

Between 10 and 20 centimetres (four and eight inches) of snow fell overnight in Belgium, sowing chaos on the roads, with many buses and taxis in the capital Brussels unable to drive on snow-blocked streets.

Belgian trains were hit with severe delays as many railway employees were unable to make it to work, operator Infrabel said.

The motorway from Belgium to Luxembourg was cut by snow, and bus services in most cities in the hilly south of the country were not running.

Hundreds of plane passengers at Charleroi spent the night at the airport or in the hotel after their flights were cancelled.

In Germany, the country's third largest airport in Duesseldorf was shut down early Friday, a spokeswoman for the flag carrier Lufthansa told AFP.

"Duesseldorf is closed this morning, but it should reopen this afternoon," Bettina Rittberger said.

On the roads, one person was killed and 10 injured in a massive pile-up involving 51 cars on the A9 motorway between Berlin and Munich, media reports said.

More snow was expected across Germany during the day, and several trains ground to a halt overnight as service was cut between Hannover and Berlin, the national railway Deutsche Bahn said.

Hundreds of tourists on the Danish island of Bornholm were forced to spend the night in an army barracks or on the ferry after heavy snow overnight.

"Bornholm police ask people not to move around. Heading off on foot outside built-up areas is deadly dangerous and we ask people to stay at home," they said in a statement.

In Finland, temperatures plummeted to minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) in much of the country overnight, including the capital Helsinki.

In Britain, where heavy snow last week caused widespread transport chaos, meteorologists warned of further snow and widespread icy roads in northeast England and eastern Scotland.

The Met Office forecast that temperatures would plunge to as low as minus 14 Celsius overnight Friday in central Scotland.

Train services were disrupted across large parts of the country, hitting travellers heading home for Christmas, although Heathrow airport was largely back to normal after the chaos of recent days.

In Ireland, Dublin airport reopened Friday after being closed for much of Thursday, stranding about 40,000 passengers.

Snow and ice crews worked overnight to clear about 120,000 tonnes of snow from the runway, a statement from the airport said.

 

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine