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Aviation

Snow and security crew strike delay European flights

Snowfalls across western Europe have disrupted travel plans, with cancellations and closures at some major airports. Compounding aviation woes was a strike by security workers in Hamburg.

Munich Airport management said 70 flights were cancelled on Friday, in the wake of severe weather on Thursday when 300 flights were grounded and runways had to be cleared 16 times.

The delays were also due to flight backlogs at other airports. At Vienna airport, more than 200 flights were cancelled on Thursday. Switzerland's Basel airport reopened Friday - after 60 cancellations the previous day - with snow still falling.

London's Heathrow Airport cancelled about 60 flights on Friday, while 24 vehicles cleared runways. Closures were in place at three other airports - Cardiff in Wales, Bristol in southeast England and Southampton on England's south coast.

Britain's weather agency, the Met Office, warned of up to 30 centimeters (11 inches) of snow in areas of southern Wales. Over 2,000 schools were closed across Britain, a large number of those in Wales.

Austrian forecasters predict up to 50 centimeters of snow with temperatures falling to at least minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) from Saturday onwards.

Air security strike in Hamburg

Hamburg Airport management urged passengers - in an online message - not to even turn up for departure, warning of four-hour-long queues cause by the strike.

The German services trade union Verdi said 95 percent of security workers employed by a contractor at the airport had boycotted their early shift.

Of the 20 security lanes, where passengers are normally screened before boarding flights, only one was staffed, Verdi said.

Virtually nothing was moving, added an airport spokeswoman. Many passengers had reacted angrily to the stoppage because they had not reached their flight gate on time, she said.

"All passengers should be prepared for lengthy waiting times and flight cancellations," airport management said in its online message.

Verdi began the day-long strike to put pressure on Germany's security industry federation BDSW to agree at negotiations to a rise in hourly pay from 11.80 euros ($15.73) currently to 14.50 euros.

ipj/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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