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Heavy snowfall forces Swiss airports to shut

Published on 01/12/2010

Heavy snowfall spreading westwards across Switzerland wrought havoc for air travellers on Wednesday, forcing some airports to shut.

Geneva international airport would remain close until 6:00 am Thursday, after 30 to 40 cms of snow fell over two days.

“According to weather forecasts, it should stop snowing at 1 or 2am, that would give us enough time to clear the snow off the runway,” airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli told AFP.

“In terms of quantity of snow, it has been a long time that we haven’t been confronted with such a situation.”

Geneva airport had been shut since Tuesday night. About 100 stranded passengers spent the night at the airport while 200 others were sheltered by the civil protection unit, as all hotels in the city were fully booked.

Buses in the city had to be halted amid continuing snowfall, although trams were running regularly.

Meanwhile, as snowfall intensified across Switzerland, Basel airport also shut its runway in the afternoon, between 3 pm to at least 5.30 pm, in order to clear off the 10 cm of snow that has accumulated in just over two hours.

Fourteen flights have been canceled there and deviated to Strasbourg, France, said a spokeswoman.

The country’s biggest airport Zurich was still operating, although 70 flights had been cancelled due to bad weather conditions in other airports.

“Our air operations are working, thanks to three runways, we haven’t shut the airport in 62 years,” said a spokeswoman.