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Trains, British Airways planes, and automobiles all yield to Europe's snow

British Airways flights were canceled and delayed today due to snow and ice, with forecasters predicting bad weather through Wednesday. Travelers' frustrations mounted at airports over poor snow removal.

By Staff writer / December 20, 2010

Airline passenger baggage is left in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport in west London on Dec. 20. Snow and freezing temperatures delayed flights across northern Europe on Monday, frustrating travelers trying to get away for Christmas and putting pressure on airline shares.

Luke MacGregor/Reuters


• A summary of global reports on Europe's weather.

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Outrage over Britain's inability to cope with a few inches of snow is mounting for travelers worldwide affected by the massive cancellations and delays at London's Heathrow airport.

The British Airways flight status at the busiest airport in all of Europe continued to show mass cancellations and delays today, stranding tens of thousands of travelers in London as the United Kingdom and much of northern Europe struggles to dig itself out from a layer of snow and ice. At least 100,000 Britons have been stranded overseas, according to The Telegraph.

“Severe weather continues to cause significant disruption to our operations,” British Airways said in a statement posted today on its website.

“ALL shorthaul flights [out of London Heathrow] after 12 p.m. midday have been cancelled,” British Airways added (see flight updates here).

Even more air travelers are stranded around the world because their flights into the UK are also halted until the airports dig themselves out.

Among those affected by the snow was the Monitor's correspondent Scott Peterson, who was stuck in southern England over the weekend and unable to fly back to Istanbul. “I’m looking out at a load of snow right now,” he said today from East Sussex, an hour south of London, while preparing to drive a friend to Heathrow Airport this afternoon. He said he was planning three hours for what is normally a 90-minute drive because of "chaos" on the roadways.

"In looking at the television and listening to the radio, it’s clear that there are tens of thousands of passengers that have been held up by this storm," he says. "British press are describing in very stark terms that half a million people’s holidays have been ‘ruined’ or ‘wrecked.' "

Only one of two runways at London Heathrow was operating today, reported Reuters. The airport was offering immediate responses to flight questions via its Twitter feed.

Flight departures from Brussels were canceled until Wednesday due to a lack of de-icing liquid, reported the BBC, while 30 percent of flights from Paris's two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, were canceled. Russian news agency RTT reported that air traffic was also crippled in Spain, the Netherlands, and Croatia.

The New York Times said there are "repercussions felt by travelers across the globe." Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific and Sydney-based airline Qantas both canceled or delayed flights into London.


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