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Snowstorm brings Munich airport to standstill and hits travel in central Europe

A Lufthansa aircraft parked at the snow-covered Munich airport in Germany (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa via AP)
A Lufthansa aircraft parked at the snow-covered Munich airport in Germany (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa via AP)

All flights were grounded at Munich’s airport on Saturday after a winter storm dumped snow across southern Germany and parts of Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, affecting travel across the region.

After initially announcing a halt in air traffic until noon on Saturday, the airport later announced flights would be cancelled until 6am on Sunday.

Other airports in the region, including in the Swiss financial capital Zurich, also announced weather-related delays and cancellations.

Trains to and from Munich’s central station were also halted, Germany’s national railway said, advising passengers to delay or reroute their journeys.

People remove a fallen tree from a road after heavy snowfall in Munich, Germany
People remove a fallen tree from a road after heavy snowfall in Munich, Germany (Matthias Schrader/AP)

The news agency dpa reported that some passengers in Munich and the nearby city of Ulm spent Friday night on trains due to the halt.

In Munich, no buses or trams were operating as of Saturday afternoon, the local transit authority said.

Some subway and regional train lines were also affected by the weather.

Downed trees left “many thousands” of people without power across the state of Bavaria, the utility company Bayernwerk told dpa.

Officials for Germany’s Bundesliga also announced that a football match between Bayern Munich and Union Berlin, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Munich, was postponed.

The Munich Allianz stadium in Germany
The Munich Allianz stadium in Germany (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Police in Lower Bavaria, the region north-west of Munich, said they responded to 350 incidents related to snow and ice between Friday night and early Saturday, some of which led to minor to moderate injuries.

In Austria and Switzerland, the new snowfall led officials to raise the alarm about the danger of avalanches.

The provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg in western Austria raised their avalanche warnings to the second-highest level after the region received up to 50 centimetres (20in) of snow overnight.

The Austrian railway company OeBB said on Saturday afternoon that various stretches of its routes across the country were closed due to the storm.

In the Czech Republic, the major highway and some other roads were blocked for hours, trains and public transportation faced delays and cancellations, and more than 15,000 households were without power.

Trains stuck at the Munich main railway station in Germany
Trains stuck at the Munich main railway station (Lukas Barth/dpa via AP)

The key D1 highway that links the capital Prague with the second largest city of Brno was at a standstill for hours after an accident that caused a 20-kilometre (12.4-mile) long line of trucks.

Traffic jams also hit other parts of the highway as well as the D5 that links Prague with Germany.

A number of high-speed and regional trains had to stop in the southern part of the country as cross-border trains from neighbouring Austria and Germany did not operate, and some roads were expected to remain closed for the day.