After snow and ice caused Christmas travel chaos across Europe, air traffic is gradually returning to normal. It's been one of the snowiest winters ever and has raised the issue of the air industry's preparedness to deal with severe weather.
Reuters - Hundreds of stranded travellers spent Christmas morning in European airport terminals after sleeping on camp beds overnight as icy weather grounded flights out of Paris and Brussels.
Flight schedules were returning to normal in Paris, thanks to fresh deliveries of de-icing fluid from Germany and the United States to get planes off the ground, but many people were still set to miss Christmas dinners at their destinations.
Airports were mostly back to normal in Britain, Belgium and Germany, although there were cancellations in Frankfurt and Zurich. Several hundred people slept in Paris and Brussels airports on Friday night.
Freezing weather and heavy snow have disrupted travel for several days, upsetting year-end travel for hundreds of thousands of people and raising questions about the air industry's lack of preparation for icy weather.
Flight delays and cancellations have been compounded by disruption to high-speed trains and clogged road travel from England to Sweden in one of Europe's snowiest Decembers.
At Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, staff handed out instant coffee and pastries for breakfast on Saturday and Transport Minister Thierry Mariani told passengers he would look into what caused an acute shortage of de-icing fluid.
At least 300 people slept on military-style beds at Roissy on Friday after some 400 flights were cancelled.
Many slept at nearby hotels, where authorities had reserved 3,300 rooms. While some people cried into mobile phones, others prayed at an airport mass to be able to get on their flights.
A few brought champagne to drink from plastic cups and ate improvised Christmas Eve suppers of smoked salmon, salad, fish pate and cheese cubes, surrounded by suitcases, as a Santa Claus handed out sweets, toys and dolls to children.
"The weather is unpredictable," said Mariani, who arrived at Roissy shortly after midnight on Friday. "You can go to all the effort you like but at the end of the day it's the weather."
Date created : 2010-12-25