US sends de-icer to Paris airport

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Passengers wait for their flights in a terminal after sleeping at Charles de Gaulle Roissy airport, near Paris(AP)

Paris’s main airport has got an early Christmas gift flown in from the United States – a supply of de-icing fluid to get planes airborne.

A strike at the main French factory producing glycol led to shortages that forced authorities to halve the number of take-offs from Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday morning.

As freezing temperatures continued, the cutback was reduced about one third.

Meanwhile passengers at the airport were asked to leave a section of a major terminal for security reasons because of large amounts of snow on the roof, said Bernard Cathelain, deputy director of the Paris airport authority ADP.

He denied French media reports that the terminal, 2E, was evacuated, and said the terminal was still operating. “We’ve asked passengers to move” to another part of the terminal, he said.

A roof at terminal 2E collapsed in 2004, not long after it was opened, killing four travellers and sending tons of glass, steel and concrete showering down.

New snowfall caused travel problems around France and also shut Duesseldorf airport in Germany for hours.

French authorities said some 400 flights at Charles de Gaulle were cancelled in the first wave of reductions.

That was bad timing for travellers hoping to be at the table Christmas Eve, when the festive Christmas meal is served in France.

Getting people home is “our goal for tonight,” Air France ground official Michel Emeyriat said. “We will do everything so that our planes can take off with everyone,” he said. He conceded that long-haul flights get priority treatment.

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