Thousands of passengers, many of whom were rushing home for the Christmas holidays, found themselves stranded at Germany’s biggest airport after the runways were closed completely on Monday night.
“Delays and cancellations of flights at Frankfurt airport are to be expected due to current weather conditions,” the airport said on its website. “Passengers are requested to contact their airline or inform themselves via the media.”
With Europe gripped by freezing weather, the continent has been plunged into transport mayhem, with many major cities affected by airport delays, road accidents and even train breakdowns.
Berlin’s Tegel airport was also briefly closed so that black ice could be removed from the runways, a spokesman for the airport said.
More than 3,000 travellers spent Monday night at the Frankfurt airport after runways were closed down because of snow and ice.
Authorities at Germany’s biggest airport set up 1,500 camp beds and put another 5,000 passengers whose flights had been cancelled into hotels, an airport spokesman said.
Many passengers also spent the night on board grounded aircraft.
A total of 229 flights through Frankfurt, a key European transport hub, were cancelled on Monday.
“One or another passengers were naturally not particularly happy about the situation,“ the spokesman said. But by and large, things had been “relatively calm” and there had been “no aggression,” he added.
Airport authorities closed all runways at 10:44 pm Monday night because of the hard-packed snow and ice, and did not begin re-opening them until about 3am.