European Airports Limit Region’s Flights as Snow Spreads
European airports from London to Frankfurt suspended hundreds of flights and worked to overcome bottlenecks from weekend cancellations as snow and ice swept across the continent and disrupted travel for a second week.
Heathrow in London has scrapped 179 flights so far today, about 14 percent of the total, after grounding 260 yesterday. Visibility may deteriorate tonight at Europe’s busiest aviation hub, and aircraft may need hold a bigger distance to one another. Frankfurt canceled 424 out of 1,190 flights, and about 40 percent of traffic through Paris’s airports today is on hold.
“Because Heathrow runs at almost 100 percent capacity, there is no slack in the system and flights unfortunately have to be canceled,” the airport operator said in a statement.
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 today 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.
BA is scrapping mostly short-haul flights and focusing on destinations including Amsterdam, Zurich and Manchester in northern England. The carrier’s schedule is “under constant review,” spokesman Tony Cane said by e-mail.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) has begun suspending flights scheduled to fly tomorrow, boosting total cancellations for the two first days of the week to 516, according to its website. While all four runways in Frankfurt are clear, many planes require time-consuming de-icing, further disrupting operations.
The U.K. Met Office issued an “amber” alert for parts of northern England and Scotland today, 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.
Stansted, the city’s No. 3 airport, said its runway is clear and the visibility is good. Ryanair Plc (RYA), the No. 1 operator there, canceled 24 flights today because of a shortage of de-icing fluid.
London City, in the east of the capital, said its runway is now open after being closed earlier today. Some flights may experience disruptions due to last night’s weather conditions, the airport operator said on its Twitter feed.
Eurostar Group Ltd., whose trains to London from Paris and Brussels have been brought to a halt during previous snowfalls, pre-emptively canceled six services and warned all trains would suffer delays because of speed restrictions.
British rail companies including Virgin Trains and Stagecoach Group Plc (SGC)’s South West Trains have also amended timetables to minimize disruption. SNCF, the French state-owned rail operator, slowed its high-speed TGV trains while projecting 97 percent of operations would be maintained.
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 as of 11:35 a.m. and some Overground commuter services are suspended.
KLM canceled about 50 European flights to and from Amsterdam-Schiphol, according to a statement on the website of the Dutch national carrier owned by Air France-KLM. The airport scrapped 20 flights overall, mostly because of snow conditions elsewhere in Europe, spokeswoman Marit Merkus said.
Air France expects to operate all its long-haul flights today and more than 50 percent of its short- and medium-haul network, spokesman Herve Erschler said. The bus service to Charles de Gaulle as well as bus and train connections with Orly have been suspended, Aeroports de Paris said.
All runways at Brussels Airport are clear and the airport functioning normally, spokesman Jan Van der Cruysse said by telephone today. Some flights have been canceled as result of snow at other airports and a number of flights have been diverted to Brussels.
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