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Originally published Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 6:54 AM

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Paris airport slows due to low deicing stocks

Paris' main airport could use a gift from Santa this Christmas Eve - a supply of deicing liquid to get planes off the ground.

Associated Press


Paris' main airport could use a gift from Santa this Christmas Eve - a supply of deicing liquid to get planes off the ground.

France's civil aviation authority has asked airlines to reduce flights out of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport by half for several hours Friday due to a shortage of the liquid used to deice planes.

With stocks of glycol running low, and predictions of below-freezing temperatures on Friday, airlines were told to cut flights until 1200 GMT. That was bad timing for travelers hoping to be at table Christmas Eve, when the festive Christmas meal is served in France and some other countries.

Getting people home is "our goal for tonight," Air France ground official Michel Emeyriat said on the iTele TV channel. "We will do everything so that our planes can take off with everyone," he said - without promising that this would happen.

The order came just as backlogs of passengers waiting for a flight at Paris' two main airports eased somewhat after days of major weather-related congestion that, at its height, saw some 4,000 travelers stranded.

In Britain, major airports said services were operating largely as normal as the country thawed out from days of frosty weather. However, Christmas travelers were contending with reduced rail services and icy roads. About a quarter of services were canceled on some rail routes.

While the situation was on the mend at London's airports, Ireland risked plunging for a second day into travel chaos.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair say they both are attempting a full schedule Friday. But they voiced fears that snow may be lurking behind thee blue skies, just like Thursday when an unexpected blizzard caught Dublin off guard.

Dublin Airport got 8 inches of snow, the biggest hit since the unseasonable snowfall Monday, and had to close three times during the day.

"It's terrible, it really is. The conditions were just so bad at the airport yesterday. It was a blizzard and it wasn't expected," said Siobhan Moore, spokeswoman for Dublin Airport. Thousands of stranded passengers are "tired and stressed and emotional, all entirely understandable at this time of year."

She said the airfield tarmac is equivalent to 600 acres, and each inch of snow equates to 15,000 tons. So that means emergency staff cleared an estimated 120,000 tons of snow overnight.

The unexpected Irish cold snap is also killing cows, sheep and pigs - and particularly young salmon at Ireland's fish farms that are used to stock lakes in springtime for anglers.


In Germany, Duesseldorf airport was temporarily closed Friday morning because of new snowfall, with some 65 flights canceled. The railway line between Hannover and Berlin was closed during the night because of ice-covered overhead electric wires, but services resumed early Friday.


Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin, David Stringer in London and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

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