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Skavsta reopens for air traffic

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 3 Feb 2010, 11:35

Published: 03 Feb 2010 07:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Feb 2010 11:35 GMT+01:00

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Airport manager Dot Gade Kulovuori said flights were set to take off from 2pm onwards, although serious delays are still expected.

"The weather is still bad but we now have braking levels that the airlines are able to accept. It's up to the pilot to decide whether it is possible to take off or land the airplane," she told news agency TT.

In all, 350 passengers have been hit by cancellations, with around 1,000 more affected by delays at Skavsta, located 100 kilometres south of Stockholm.

Passengers with cancelled flights have instead been booked onto the next available flight, but not all can expect to get out of the country on Wednesday.

"It hasn't been much fun but safety always has to come first," said Gade Kulovuori.

Amid heavy snow falls and strong winds, there had been no traffic in or out of the airport since Tuesday evening. A handful of planes were redirected to Arlanda and Västerås airports but the majority of flights were subject to postponements.

Budget carrier Ryanair, which has its main Swedish hub at Skavsta, cancelled some of its flights on Wednesday morning.

"It's starting to get quite full here," said Gade Kulovuori during the morning.

In the departure hall at Skavsta, passenger Christian Nyberg learned that his delayed 9.40am flight to Milan had been cancelled.

"It doesn't feel good. We've booked a rental car and a hotel and were heading down to ski for the weekend," he said.

The atmosphere at the airport was somewhat chaotic, he said, with a number of passengers waiting for updates on the status of their flights.

"At the same time, there's not much one can do about the weather," he said.

The snow has also led to the closure of a number of rural schools in Värmland in western Sweden as snow drifts on the roads prevent school buses from completing their routes.

Säffle council in southwest Värmland has announced the cancellation of lessons at six schools in the municipality. The schools do however have staff on hand to take care of any pupils who manage to defy the elements.

With more heavy snow forecast for southern areas of Sweden, hard-hit commuters are in for more disruption as the government and opposition fight to apportion the blame.

Thousands of commuters have been hampered by delays and cancelled trains as a result of recent adverse wintry weather in the southern areas of the country in recent days.

The Swedish Met Office (SMHI) has issued a class 1 storm warning -- the lowest warning level on a scale of 1-3 -- for the Götaland region, forecasting a further day of heavy snow falls and falling temperatures. A spate of accidents and further disruption to train services is to be expected, SMHI warns.

The infrastructure minister Åsa Torstensson argues that the situation is unacceptable.

"The trains are supposed to run even when it snows. This is a long winter, but then it is usually wintry in several areas of the country so this is nothing exceptional," she said.

"I think therefore that as a passenger you should be able to expect that the trains run on time."

Torstensson argues that years of under-investment during the the tenure of the previous government is to blame.

"There has been a lack of funds for maintenance over a long period of time. This is because the budget has not prioritized the provision of necessary resources to the Rail Authority (Banverket)."

With train services set to continue to run on a limited schedule until at least Friday, rush hour commuters can expect to find standing room only on many services into Stockholm.

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The Social Democrats meanwhile rejected Torstensson's apportioning of the blame.

"We have invested large sums of money on maintenance and if you factor in inflation the difference is not so great," the party's infrastructure spokesperson Lena Hallengren said.

Electricity utilities Eon and Vattenfall report that they have raised their state of alert after SMHI's storm warning to tackle any eventual power failures.

Eon has put a further 60-70 staff on alert as well as deployed helicopters to keep a check on power lines.

The Roads Authority (Vägverket) also has its staff on alert in primarily the southern areas of Sweden with over 1,200 snow ploughs and other vehicles ready to roll out and clear the roads.

The harsh wintry weather led to all train services between Malmö and Copenhagen being suspended at around 5pm on Tuesday with passengers instead referred to replacement bus services.

Frozen tracks also caused cancellations on the Malmö-Ystad commuter line with road conditions preventing the deployment of bus alternatives.

Sten Laurin at SMHI forecasts that the low pressure front that brought the snow in over Skåne on Tuesday evening is set to remain until late Wednesday afternoon before pushing east.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:47 February 3, 2010 by Rick Methven
"Torstensson argues that years of under investment during the the tenure of the previous government is to blame"

So the worst winter in southern Sweden for 25 years and blizzards has nothing to do with train cancellations!

It is election year so the politicians are blaming each other for everything.

Next I expect the opposition is going to blame this years bad weather on the Government LOL
09:23 February 3, 2010 by xenyasai
I find it very funny how people blame politicians for the weather chaos. Politicians might do a few things wrong that do not benefit the public, but they do not control the weather.

Get over it. If you are unhappy with the weather, take mother nature to court and see how that goes.
09:24 February 3, 2010 by Nemesis
I delivered reklam on saturdeay evening and mid day sunday.

All the roads and walkways in my town were cleared early in the morning. It was cold but the walkways were clear enough for me to work.

If that had been back in Ireland or UK, it would have been impossible for me to do deliveries as the walkways and roads would not have been cleared.

Sweden has good response to snow clearing. A suggestion, don't tinker with it or reduce it, as it allows your country to function when others would be in chaos.
10:28 February 3, 2010 by Rick Methven
"find it very funny how people blame politicians for the weather chaos. Politicians might do a few things wrong that do not benefit the public, but they do not control the weather"

What I find funny is that politicians blame other politicians for weather related problems
10:37 February 3, 2010 by Puffin
"Torstensson argues that years of under investment during the the tenure of the previous government is to blame"

But the current government - in power for almost 4 years - didn't bother to do anything either ;-)
11:12 February 3, 2010 by Glempa

good point, what have the government done in 4 years?

In UK we had many years under conservatives who did not believe government should spend money on railways. Then we had Blair who let a private company maintain the railway infrastructure who put profits/shareholders before safety. Both schemes were a disaster! Railways started to fall apart, trains crashed and people were killed. Now the railway infrastructure has been nationalised (back in government hands) and money is being spent on them.

It worries me to hear of privatisation of railways here.
18:04 February 3, 2010 by BroX


"We have invested large sums of money on maintenance and if you factor in inflation the difference is not so great," - Lena Hallengren

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