Blizzards and storms delay flights across Western Europe
Extreme weather has swept across Western Europe from the UK to Spain, with bad conditions continuing to hit air traffic today. Blizzards and heavy rain have delayed flights, caused road accidents, killed a number of people and led to power blackouts.
London’s Heathrow Airport expects delays to continue this week after scrapping at least 20% of its flights on Sunday – about 250 flights – leaving hundreds of passengers to camp on the floor. It says its Monday flight schedule will be reduced by 10%, or 130 flights. These will add to 100 cancellations on Saturday and more than 390 on Friday. Reduced visibility has also meant a lower volume of flights in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva and Vienna.
Throughout Europe, airports and railroads have changed schedules to minimise disruptions. At Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, about 40% of short- and medium-haul flights have been affected and 650 flights have been axed at both air hubs in total.
Today Air France says it expects to operate all its long-haul flights in Paris and more than half of its short and medium-haul flights. “There may, however, be some last-minute delays and cancellations,” the airline adds. “To limit any inconvenience, Air France advises its customers planning to travel on January 21 on a short or medium-haul flight to or from Paris-Orly or Paris-Charles de Gaulle to postpone their trip wherever possible.”
Services by British Airways, Air France-KLM, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa have also been hit. France’s SNCF rail company says there are delays of up to 40 minutes on many lines as speeds are cut to ensure safety.
Snow has covered large parts of northern and south-western France, reaching 20 centimetres in some areas. It has also led to hundreds of flight cancellations in Germany and Austria. Passengers there are advised to check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport.
International train services between the UK, France and Belgium were cancelled. Snow is likely to continue over the coming week.
In France, fatal road and motorway crashes were reported. In Savoie in the Alps, a coach transporting Russian tourists overturned on a motorway access road, injuring 20 people. An avalanche killed four climbers near Glencoe in Scotland, although seven others survived. In Portugal, a man was killed when powerful winds threw him through a door and in Spain two men were killed when a wall collapsed on them. Wind speeds in parts of southern Europe reached over 100 kilometres per hour, pulling trees and lampposts out of the ground and ripping off roofs. Waves 10 meters high crashed onto the coastline in north-western Spain and rivers flooded.
Reuters / AFP / RIA / RT
[photo by NASA]