Air Travelers, Drivers in Germany Face Delays After Heavy Overnight Snows

Germany’s transportation system dug itself out this morning after heavy snowfall overnight, as Deutsche Lufthansa AG said it expects a large number of flight cancellations throughout the day.

The snowfall has created “considerable disturbances” in European air travel, with Fraport AG’s Frankfurt airport among the hardest hit points, Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow said by phone.

Fourteen centimeters (5.5 inches) of snow fell at Frankfurt airport from early evening until early today and as much as 40 centimeters in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia from yesterday afternoon until this morning, Joerg Meinhold of the German Weather Service said by phone.

Only 10 of the usual 43 hourly landings at Frankfurt had been cleared to go ahead as of mid-morning, Jachnow said, citing snow which has remained on apron and aircraft-parking areas. Delays and cancellations also occurred in Munich and Berlin, Jachnow said. Lufthansa expects to avoid cancellations on all long-haul flights.

Fraport spokesman Thomas Uber said runways were clear, though there have been 222 flight cancellations so far today, many due to problems at other European airports. The airport’s website showed extensive delays.

Operations were “relatively stable” on Germany’s national railroad as weather improved, said Kathrin Fellenberg, a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn AG. Trains were not being cancelled although the weather has caused delays in many parts of the country, she said.

Road Traffic

Snowfall and ice caused disruptions to road traffic in many parts of Germany, especially the southwest and the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, according to news reports. Bild newspaper said treacherous driving conditions caused traffic jams this morning.

Weather forecasters predicted a gradual improvement in conditions. “The snow front is still cavorting around in southern Germany, but we expect it to ebb away during the day,” Dorothea Petzold, a spokeswoman at the German Weather Service in Frankfurt, said by phone.

Switzerland’s Zurich Airport was forced to cancel 40 flights as a result of snowfall and expects more disruptions today, spokeswoman Jasmin Bodmer said by phone.

“Teams have been out clearing runways since last night,” she said. “There is so much snow that each time they finish they have to start over.”

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