News / Europe

Snow Brings Europe to a Standstill

A snow covered aircraft is parked on the airfield at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. Snow and freezing temperatures continued to cause holiday travel problems Monday for road, rail and air passengers all over Europe
A snow covered aircraft is parked on the airfield at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. Snow and freezing temperatures continued to cause holiday travel problems Monday for road, rail and air passengers all over Europe
Diaa Bekheet

Northern Europe has been hit with its third day of extreme weather, with snow and ice cutting off travel links across Britain, France, and Germany.    

Passengers have been stranded at airports across Europe, with flights canceled in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London.  Britain's Heathrow Airport canceled most flights and hundreds of people slept overnight in its terminal buildings.

Road and train travel have also been hit, trains linking England to France and Belgium were delayed or canceled.

Customers say the transport industry has not coped well with the cold weather.

"No one was doing anything, all the stairways were blocked off, so there were like, guards, just standing there," said Fleur Wackett, a Eurostar train traveler stranded in London. "No one told us anything. I stood there for two hours.  I could not move because I was surrounded back to back with different bodies."  

A spokesman for the travel industry group ABTA, Sean Tipton, says many holiday tourists have canceled overseas trips.  

"In Northern Europe we are seeing one of the worst winters for 25 years and certainly the impact in the U.K. has been pretty catastrophic," Tipton said. "It has also impacted on France, on Germany, and to a certain extent in Italy as well.  So pretty, pretty chaotic scenes."  

He says it also means many foreigners who live in Europe will not be able to get home for the Christmas season.  

"It is not just about holiday makers," Tipton said. "It is also about people going home to visit friends and family.  And obviously that clearly will mean there are a lot of expats who will find that their flights have been affected, in many cases just simply canceled.  The problem is once a flight has been canceled, because it is a very busy time of year anyway, there is not a lot of availability to get people home so this is causing fairly major problems."  

Forecasters say the severe weather is likely to stay through Christmas.

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