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Travel chaos eases in Europe, Heathrow still hit

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LONDON  — Europe’s Christmas travel crisis eased slightly Wednesday but there were still substantial airport and train delays, particularly at London’s Heathrow Airport, where crews were still struggling to remove ice.

Heathrow officials said Wednesday they anticipate that 70 percent of the planned departures to operate Wednesday — about 900 flights. Extra crews were working to remove ice buildup and clear the airfield of snow.

Crowds at Heathrow were smaller Wednesday with few people standing on line outside the terminals, or sleeping on the floors. Airport officials placed two tents outside Terminal 3 to handle overflow passengers, but only one was used. Computer screens there showed 11 out of about 50 incoming flights had been cancelled.

Germany’s Frankfurt airport said schedules were slowly returning to normal after several days of widespread delays caused by winter weather. About 70 flights were canceled Wednesday out of a daily total of about 1,300, a substantial improvement over the 550 cancelations on Tuesday.

The French government said 15 percent of the flights from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris would be canceled Wednesday because of the winter weather.

Eurostar, which offers train services between England, France and Belgium, said routes were operating a near-normal schedule. Still it urged only customers with tickets to show up at terminals, after facing raucous crowds of thousands at ticket halls earlier this week.

Extreme cold temperatures continued to plague parts of Europe.

Denmark experienced its coldest night in 29 years with -8.5 F (-22.5 C) measured in Holbaek, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Copenhagen. Still, Copenhagen’s international airport expected a normal day.

Weather forecasters predicted fresh snow across England and Wales, though not in London, where temperatures warmed slightly, giving hopes that the snow and ice would soon melt.

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Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

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