Monday, December 27, 2010

Heavy snowfall in Europe hits travellers from India

CHENNAI/MUMBAI: Snowfall in UK and Europe have started to impact travel plans of holidayers in the Christmas and New Year season.

British Airways' direct flight to London on Sunday and Monday was cancelled because Heathrow airport was closed. Lufthansa also cancelled its service from Chennai to Frankfurt on Monday after weather worsened there. Air India and Kingfisher cancelled their London-bound flights and asked passengers to remain in touch with their staff for flight updates. British Airways said it was able to operate limited flights to Heathrow.

Besides London and Frankfurt other travel destinations — Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels — were also struggling to clear passengers. Airline officials in Mumbai said Indian passengers were also stuck in Belgium.

Most passengers disembarked only with their cabin baggage. They were freezing as the airport authorities did not allow them to take check-in baggage. Transit visas were arranged after a long wait, said an official from a private airline.

Travel agent Jay Bhatia said many NRIs who were planning to spend their Christmas breaks in India were also stranded. "One of my customers, a student studying in the UK, was due to join her family for a holiday in Rajasthan. While the family has already reached Udaipur, she is still in London, waiting for the snow to thaw," said Bhatia.
Airport sources said services were resuming slowly from London and that a flight had departed from London to Chennai with stranded passengers. A return service may be operated to London.

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