Heavy snow causes travel mayhem in northern Europe
LONDON – Agence France-Presse
The heaviest snowfall in four years in Britain caused travel mayhem on Dec. 10, while more than 300 flights were cancelled at Germany’s busiest airport and a ferry ran aground in the French port of Calais.
Hundreds of air passengers were stranded in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, as well as Britain, and many took to Twitter to complain.
Some 330 flights were cancelled by 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) after heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures struck the region around Frankfurt, a spokesman for airport operator Fraport told AFP.
The airport -- Germany’s largest air hub and the home base for major carrier Lufthansa -- had been scheduled to handle a total of 1,260 flights over the day.
Dusseldorf airport was also forced to close for four hours during the afternoon, news agency DPA reported.
Meanwhile, trains were delayed, redirected or cancelled across western North Rhine-Westphalia state.
In Britain, Birmingham airport, serving the country’s second biggest city, suspended flights for all of Dec. 10 morning, as staff worked to clear the runway in heavy snow.
The airport typically handles around 30,000 passengers and 200 flights a day in December. It diverted 11 flights elsewhere and expected to cancel more than that, a spokeswoman said.
London’s Luton Airport closed its runway for two hours before reopening around 1130 GMT to departing aircraft, according to a spokesman.
It had opened to incoming flights by early afternoon.
In France, a ferry with more than 300 people on board ran aground in high winds in Calais, interrupting traffic in one of Europe’s busiest passenger ports but causing no injuries.
Having been stranded for several hours, the P&O vessel was secured and passengers were finally able to disembark after they were given food and drinks.
The ferry, The Pride of Kent, ran aground around noon after it hit a gangway while making to leave for Dover in southeast England.
Five tug boats were used in the operation to free the vessel, as winds gusting at up to 110 kilometres (70 miles) per hour made the task difficult.
Elsewhere in France, 32 departments were placed on orange alert with winds of more than 100 kilometres forecast in some areas.