Blizzard halts traffic at Sweden's main airport

AP News
Posted: Dec 05, 2012 8:26 AM
Blizzard halts traffic at Sweden's main airport

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Traffic at Sweden's main airport came more or less to a stand-still Wednesday, delaying the anticipated arrival of some of this year's Nobel Prize laureates, as a blizzard hit central parts of the country.

Klas Nilsson, a spokesman for airport operator Swedavia, said only one runway at Stockholm's Arlanda airport remained open for departing flights — resulting in severe delays and multiple flight cancellations — and it would not be able to receive any arrivals until the snow-storm began to settle.

"In principle, we're looking at a ruined travel day here," he said.

Some 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow fell on Stockholm overnight Wednesday.

Nilsson said it was unusual for a blizzard to last for so long, adding "it's not looking good for the afternoon."

There were no immediate figures on how many passengers were affected but Nilsson said some 50,000 people travel through Arlanda daily.

Wednesday was the main arrival date for most of this year's Nobel Prize laureates, who are scheduled to participate in days of activities before they pick up their prizes at an awards ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

Annika Pontikis, a spokeswoman for the Nobel Foundation which organizes the festivities, said that five of the nine laureates expected in Stockholm had arrived already, but that travel plans for the remaining four were likely to be delayed because of the weather.

"But we think we can expect them this evening," she said.

Nobel week activities, including lectures and press conferences, start on Thursday.

The Nobel Peace Prize, which is being awarded to the European Union this year, is handed out at a separate ceremony in Oslo, Norway.