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European Travelers Stuck As Flights Grounded By Snow

A snowplow clears the runway in Hanover, Germany, on December 19.

A snowplow clears the runway in Hanover, Germany, on December 19.

Foul winter weather has caused hundreds of flight cancellations in Europe, complicating travel plans for thousands of holiday travelers.

The majority of flights were affected at European airports including London, Brussels, and Frankfurt, which are suffering further stoppages and closures after fresh snowfall.

London's Heathrow Airport was not accepting any arriving flights and was allowing only a handful of departures after snow and ice forced the closure of runways.

A statement on Heathrow's website said preparations were under way for a full reopening on December 20, but the statement also warned travelers to check with their airline before traveling to the airport.

With heavy snow blanketing the French capital, about 25 percent of flights at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport were delayed until at least evening.

"We are heading to Baltimore to see my parents. It has been a year since we saw them. But now we can't go until [at least] Tuesday morning," Gerard, a student in France who was meant to leave Paris for the United States, told Reuters after hearing his flight had been delayed at least until at least December 21.

Another passenger stranded in Paris, recalling the flight delays caused across Europe last spring by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, told the agency she felt helpless because there was nothing she can do.

"Just wait, just wait and hope that the weather will be better," the traveler said.

At Frankfurt airport, the busiest in Germany, more than 500 flights had been canceled out of a planned total of 1,330 departures and arrivals, although the runways at Frankfurt were subsequently cleared of ice and snow.

But flights were being disrupted by problems elsewhere in Europe -- causing some passengers to wait for their flights since December 17.

More than 2,000 stranded passengers had to sleep over at Frankfurt airport after Germany's Lufthansa canceled several domestic and regional services to and from its main hub there.

In Amsterdam, delays and cancellations forced about 700 passengers to sleep on camp beds at Schiphol Airport on December 18. Schiphol spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said the airport's snow plow teams had cleared three runways and planes were arriving and leaving. But she said problems at other European airports had cause about 30 flights to be canceled by late this morning.

Although Ireland was battered by its worst snow in decades Saturday, airports in Belfast and Dublin remained open today. Still, airlines were warning on their websites of cancellations and delays.

Airports in Spain and Denmark also have been reporting flight cancelations and delays.

compiled from agency reports