Freezing conditions disrupt Christmas travel across Europe

Passengers hoping for a Christmas getaway have found themselves stranded at airports, with hundreds of people camping out in terminals for another night after planes were grounded. All domestic and shorthaul flights from Heathrow, Britain's busiest airport, have been cancelled for the rest of the day.

Temperatures plunged overnight, with a record low for Northern Ireland to minus 18C. The lowest UK temperature overnight was minus 19.6C, recorded in Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

Forecasters have said the UK is experiencing some of the most severe winter weather in a century, with continued sub-zero temperatures and snowfalls of up 20 centimetres.
British Aiways said Heathrow had only one of its two runways operational, where overnight temperature was recorded at minus 9.4C and "many areas of the airfield remain unusable, including areas around parked aircraft".

The airline said it was operating "a limited schedule of flights to and from Heathrow. It stopped accepting arrivals yesterday, causing havoc at the start of the Christmas travel rush with thousands of fliers stranded.

The British air-hub said delays and cancellations would spill into next week.
Similarly, hundreds of passengers were forced to spend night at London's Gatwick Airport due to cancellations and flight delays.

At Frankfurt airport in Germany, more than 700 flights remained grounded last evening as heavy snow and sleet on runways made take-offs and landings difficult.

No improvement is expected even today as snowfall continued in night, officials said. The airport is bracing for more stranded passengers after weathermen predicted further problems on Monday with up to 20 centimetres of snow falling in some places.

An estimated 3,000 air-travellers have been stranded at the Frankfurt Airport, since the travel chaos began on Friday. Many of them have been put up in hotels by their airlines. "The entire flight plan at the airport is in disarray," officials said.

At Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, more than 40 per cent flights were cancelled and many passengers slept in makeshift dormitories.

Over 1,500 passengers spent their second night at the Brussels airport mainly because connection flights from London, Frankfurt or other snow-hit cities are not leaving.
Officials at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport said more than 1,700 beds were "far too less" for around 3,000 passengers stranded there and many of them had to sleep on sofas or on floor.

At Germany's second largest airport in Munich, around 50 flights were cancelled yesterday and around 200 stranded passengers spent the night on camping beds. Flight delays and cancellations were also reported at the airports in Hamburg, Berlin and Hannover.

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