Snow covered plane in Germany 311.
(photo credit: AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
BERLIN (AP) — Heavy overnight snowfall disrupted air travel across western Europe Friday, forcing more than 800 flight cancellations and leading to major delays in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
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Germany appeared the hardest hit by the snow, with more than 600 flights canceled, schools forced to close and highways clogged with traffic after scores of accidents that killed at least three people and injured dozens.
Snow also hindered flights in the neighboring Netherlands, where Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport saw more than 100 cancellations and major delays ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season, spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said.
The European control agency eurocontrol said passengers at Schiphol, one of continental Europe's busiest airports, had to expect delays of up to four and a half hours.
Moreover, many passengers whose flights were canceled had their misery compounded by train and bus traffic also being hit hard by the snow, stranding them in Schiphol's terminal buildings.
Dutch weather agency KNMI issued a "weather alarm" warning of heavy snowfall and lethal driving conditions in large parts of the western Netherlands as traffic jams grew around major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
Snow also forced the cancellation of about 100 flights in Switzerland,
where Geneva's airport was closed early Friday morning, though it was
open again by midmorning, and flights were also disrupted in Zurich.
In Frankfurt, continental Europe's second-biggest hub, 470 flights had
been canceled by late afternoon, airport spokesman Gunnar Scheunemann
said. The airport had to be closed for about an hour late Thursday, and
an estimated 1,000 passengers were stranded overnight.
About 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow blanketed the state overnight,
also causing the closure of schools around Frankfurt and elsewhere in
Munich airport, Germany's second-largest, reported 113 cancellations and
major delays; Duesseldorf and Stuttgart saw more than 20 cancellations