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Snow, Ice Disrupt Travel Across Europe for Fifth Day

Snow, Cold Weather Disrupt Travel Across Europe
A tractor clears snow as a British Airways aircraft sits on the tarmac at City airport in London. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Snowstorms and freezing temperatures are disrupting travel across Europe for a fifth day as airports cancel flights and train operators limit services.

Eurostar Group Ltd. plans to operate a “significantly reduced” timetable until at least Dec. 5 and has halted all ticket sales until Dec. 6, the company said on its website. London’s Gatwick Airport, the U.K.’s second-busiest, said it reopened this morning after being closed since Nov. 30. Delays, cancellations and a limited service should be expected, according to the airport’s website.

The earliest widespread snowfall in the U.K. since 1993 has frozen over roads, disrupting traffic, with icy weather likely to last until at least Dec. 8, according to private forecaster British Weather Services. The U.K.’s Met office warned of widespread icy roads across Scotland’s Highlands today and forecast temperatures to drop as low as minus 11 degrees Celsius (12 degrees Fahrenheit) in Scotland this morning and as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius in London and the southeast of England.

BAA Ltd. said London’s Heathrow Airport was operating normally, but faced delays and cancellations because of disruptions elsewhere. The company predicted there may be further disruption at Edinburgh Airport today, advising passengers to contact their airlines before traveling.

Dublin reopened at 6:40 p.m. yesterday after services were suspended as snow fell in the afternoon. Airports in Edinburgh, Geneva and London City resumed operations during the day.

Single Runway

At Gatwick, about 1,200 flights have been canceled over 48 hours. Britain’s largest airport after Heathrow and the busiest in the world with a single runway typically attracts about 70,000 passengers a day at this time of year, Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said yesterday.

On the continent, Paris’s major airports Charles de Gaulle and Orly expect partial service disruption today. Yesterday, France’s DGAC civil aviation authority ordered the cancellation of one in four flights from Charles de Gaulle and one in 10 from Orly.

SNCF, France’s national railway, said on its website that it expects services today to be close to normal. Trains may, however, operate at limited speeds, it said in a statement on its website. All high-speed trains will run as normal, all but one intercity service will be functioning, while on regional lines about 75 percent of the trains will be running, it said.

Yesterday, snow caused transport difficulties in northern France, while one in five high-speed TGV trains between Paris and the southern Riviera were canceled.

In the northern French region of Normandy, snow measured 53 centimeters near the town of Gonneville, the biggest snowfall on record, Meteo France said on its website.

Germany’s Busiest

Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s busiest, canceled 57 flights yesterday, largely because of closures at other airports. About 100 flights were canceled in Munich. Cancellations and delays are still expected today, according to the airport website.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG canceled a number of Berlin flights yesterday, spokesman Thomas Jachnow said, adding that conditions in the German capital were similar to those at other airports in Europe.

German state railway Deutsche Bahn AG warned passengers of delays and possible cancellations as high-speed trains are restricted to 200 kilometers (124 miles) an hour. Trains between Nuremberg and Leipzig were rerouted because of snowfall, spokeswoman Kathrin Fellenberg said by phone yesterday.

Freezing temperatures and blowing snow were blamed for 12 deaths in northern Europe yesterday, while some of the heaviest flooding in a century hit parts of the Balkans, the Associated Press reported.

The area affected most in the U.K. was the south, from Kent through Dorset, said Paul Watters, a spokesman for the Automobile Association. The rescue service responded to 18,000 calls on Dec. 1, and had 100,000 in the past six days, he said.

Go-Ahead Group Plc’s Southern Railway Ltd., which operates commuter services from southeast England into London, will run a reduced service today with snow and ice covering much of the company’s network, Southern said on its website today. Trains may be busier than normal as trains may be formed with fewer carriages, the company said.

U.K. same-day gas rose for a fifth day yesterday, the longest upward trend since October last year, with gas for yesterday advancing 4 percent to 64.25 pence a therm as of 4:46 p.m. in London, according to broker data on Bloomberg. About 80 percent of the country’s homes and businesses use natural gas for heating. It’s also used to generate about half of Britain’s electricity supply.

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