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Christmas Travelers Snowed Under in Europe

  • Lisa Bryant

Passengers wait for their flights in a terminal after sleeping a night at the Charles-de-Gaulle Roissy airport, Paris, 24 Dec 2010

Passengers wait for their flights in a terminal after sleeping a night at the Charles-de-Gaulle Roissy airport, Paris, 24 Dec 2010

Holiday travelers in Europe faced more misery Christmas Eve as a fresh batch of bad weather barreled into the region.

Many Europeans will wake up to snow on Christmas Day – but for those stranded in cars, train stations and airports around the region, that is not necessarily a good tiding.

As yet another wintertime storm hit Europe, Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris was forced to cancel at least one in three flights because of yet another problem – a shortage of de-icing fluid for planes.

In remarks to local radio, French Transportation Minister Thierry Mariani blamed the wave of bad weather for the shortage of the fluid – and the fact that France's only factory that manufactures it has been on strike. The factory denied responsibility.

Whatever the reason, the delays forced holiday travellers like Italian Ramona Sansotta to wait hours to catch a flight.

Sansotta said her flight to Genoa, Italy had been cancelled twice since Thursday. She had spent the night at Charles de Gaulle airport. She still hoped to get home by Christmas.

Snow and freezing rain has also disrupted road and rail travel around France, with about a fifth of French departments posting weather alerts.

French driver Nicolas told French media he has been stuck in a village in the Champagne region since Thursday with a friend because of the ice. They had hoped to spend their holiday in Alsace.

In Germany, bad weather shut down Dusseldorf's airport for part of Friday. And at Brussels Airport, Americans Richard and Kathy Boughton were crestfallen to find their flight home to Washington D.C. had been cancelled.

"We go back like every other year, and this was an important one for us to get back for family reasons," Boughton said. "Our kids are over there, all the rest of the family are there. But not us this time. Oh well. Merry Christmas. The Christmas that wasn't."

Travelers had better luck elsewhere in Europe. Flights at London's Heathrow airport were nearly back to normal after days of weather-related cancellations. And Germany's Frankfurt airport was also operating near normal.

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