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Travellers contend with snow and ice

The Local · 20 Dec 2010, 16:43

Published: 20 Dec 2010 07:49 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2010 16:43 GMT+01:00

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The nation’s largest air hub in Frankfurt had already scratched over 300 flights for the day, according to the airport operator Fraport.

"Things have not returned to normal," said a Fraport spokeswoman, explaining that a slight thaw had made for icy conditions.

She airport officials were not expecting the situation to improve since the Rhine-Main region was likely to see up to 10 centimetres of new snow throughout the day.

The cancellation of half of all flights in Frankfurt on Sunday forced hundreds of frustrated holiday travellers to spend another night in the terminal.

“I haven’t showered for two and a half days,” said Xavier Nennenman, a US soldier trying to get home to his family in Indianapolis. “I’ve already missed the first family Christmas party.”

With travellers frazzled by repeated cancellations and long lines, Germany's busiest airport has hired clowns to help them and their children pass the hours.

"Four clowns are performing in the terminal halls," a spokeswoman told news agency AFP. "We came up with the idea for the kids, who are finding the delays particularly trying."

The clowns, outfitted in brightly coloured costumes and some parading on stilts, started working over the weekend, after fights broke out at the airport among stressed-out holiday travellers late Friday.

While air traffic at Berlin’s airports remained hampered by the winter weather, conditions in Düsseldorf were improving after dozens of flights had been cancelled on Sunday.

“Only a few flights that didn’t make it here will be cancelled because there are no alternative planes,” a Düsseldorf airport spokeswoman said.


Click here for a winter photo gallery

But the roads in the surrounding state of North Rhine-Westphalia remained treacherous, leading the authorities to impose an autobahn ban on trucks heavier than 7.5 tonnes. Heavy snow had shut down some major motorways entirely in the state, according to a police spokesman in Neuss.

Fresh snow in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony was expected to snarl traffic early Monday.

National railway operator Deutsche Bahn also had to contend with the difficult weather conditions, leading to widespread delays and overfilled trains. Many rail connections had been slowed in order to prevent chunks of ice from damaging the undercarriages of trains.

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Deutsche Bahn on Sunday recommended anyone able to postpone their travel plans this week do so to help ease the crush. Passengers can have tickets up to Christmas refunded free of charge.

The snow was set to bedevil commuters in Berlin on Monday morning, as the city’s already limited S-Bahn train service was cut further due to weather-related technical problems.

Click here for The Local's weather forecast.


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Your comments about this article

09:25 December 20, 2010 by Simon_Kellett
We are just S of Frankfurt: last night we had some rain and snow melt that then froze: v. icy this morning :-(
09:40 December 20, 2010 by tommyt09
i live on the south coast of england.at the moment it is snowing,which is quite unusual for this part of my country.i have every sympathy,for people trying to get home,or away,for the christmas holiday.I remember being stuck in germany over this period,a few years ago.i could not get home to my family,i was glad i had good german friends who looked after me.Keep smiling,spring is just around the corner.
09:43 December 20, 2010 by marimay
No it's not. It's not even officially winter yet. lol
09:51 December 20, 2010 by tommyt09
where i live,winter is 4 days of frost.double lol.after tuesday,the days get longer by about 17 minutes per week.there is light at the end of the tunnel.
12:41 December 20, 2010 by DepotCat
I listened to Piers Corbyn, an alternative weather forcaster who has been quite good at predicting long range weather, on the radio today say that the cold spell will go on into January with a slightly milder bit in the middle...Mild here at the moment would be 0c..!! This was for the UK, but he also predicts that harsh winters in the UK and Northern Europe will become normal until around 2030-ish. Erm...He dosn't believe in global warming either.
15:17 December 20, 2010 by catjones
It's Global Climate Change.
16:15 December 20, 2010 by auniquecorn
Sorry all you stranded passangers, But if you would of went to Google street view before you drove to the airport, you would ,,,,, Aww forget it.
19:32 December 20, 2010 by catjones
BA has announced that a new Foul Weather Fee will be added to all fares where snow must be removed from runways, rain is falling from the sky, fog or anything deemed other than a 'perfect day'. Ticket prices are expected to rise approx 100% on those days. This has no effect on baggage fees. Lufthansa has shown interest in the fare structure as has EuroStar..
05:25 December 21, 2010 by Bushdiver
The way I see it the snows aren't all that bad. The problem is that most people in Germany are not used to this unusual amount of snow and the various states were plain not prepared. To be honest, many people in Germany can't drive when it rains, yet alone snow. If this country would experience 60 to 80 cm like here in the US I guess you could just close down Germany for the winter.
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