Winter weather snarls air, train travel across Europe

FRANKFURT/OSLO (Reuters) -Freezing rain in central and southern Germany grounded hundreds of flights and limited train traffic on Wednesday, while heavy snowfall in Norway’s capital led to the closure of its main airport.

Oslo airport said it would remain shut at least until 1330 GMT but the outage could also be extended. Germany’s Frankfurt airport cancelled all its operations from midday as airplanes could no longer be de-iced, a spokesperson said.

After cancelling all departures from midday, no airplanes could land at Frankfurt airport from 1400 GMT, they said.

Around 600 of the 1,047 scheduled Frankfurt arrivals and departures had been cancelled earlier in the day. At Munich airport 254 flights were scratched and a smaller airport in the southern city of Saarbruecken ceased operations completely.

“This is extremely rare…there is so much snow that the pilots can’t see the lights on the ground so we’ve halted all incoming and outgoing flights,” said a spokesperson for Norway’s national airport operator Avinor.

For passengers, the cancellations meant stress and changes in plans.

“I’ve had nothing but stress since yesterday,” said Klaus Ludwig Fess standing in Frankfurt airport’s departure lounge.

His initial flight and his rebooked one had been cancelled, he said.

“Now I’m taking the train to Berlin.”

In Oslo, Bente Jensen, 66, was unable to even reach the airport for a return journey to her native Denmark as train services from the city centre were cancelled.

   “It is not going very well… there seems to have been a combination of wind, snow and everything,” Jensen told Reuters after discussing her options with airport train staff alongside hundreds of other stranded passengers.

   “Things happen. It is understandable,” said the historian, who had been in town for a three-day seminar.


German rail operator Deutsche Bahn also warned of delays and cancellations because of winter weather, and said it was limiting the top speed for its high-speed ICE trains to 200 kph (124 mph) as a precautionary measure.

Its long distance services from Stuttgart and Frankfurt to Paris had been cancelled due to weather conditions in France, Deutsche Bahn said.

France’s weather service warned of black ice in 25 regions and floods in three other areas this afternoon.

In Norway, trains stopped in some areas in the east of the country due to the weather conditions, train operator Bane Nor said.

In Germany, an extreme risk of black ice and heavy snowfall would remain through Thursday in the affected regions, its weather service said.

Numerous schools in Germany’s centre and southern regions remained closed as on-site education was suspended for the day.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, Louise Breusch Rasmussen, Stephane Nitzschke, Maximilian Schwarz, Anneli Palmen and Gwladys FoucheWriting by Miranda Murray and Nette NöstlingerEditing by Tomasz Janowski and Angus MacSwan)