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Conditions improve at several European airports

By the CNN Wire Staff
Travellers preparing to depart at the Roissy-en-France airport near Paris on Christmas Eve. The situation improved Saturday.
Travellers preparing to depart at the Roissy-en-France airport near Paris on Christmas Eve. The situation improved Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Officials will investigate de-icing fluid shortage
  • Christmas Day brings smoother operations at Charles de Gaulle Airport
  • About a foot of snow falls on the de Gaulle roof, forcing a partial evacuation
  • European airports are recovering from long delays

(CNN) -- Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris was rebounding Saturday after hundreds of flights were canceled because of a shortage of de-icing fluid during snow and ice that snarled air traffic across Europe, authorities said.

Flight delays at de Gaulle were expected to decrease as the day went on. Officials could not give an exact number of flight cancellations.

The weather improved Saturday and shipments of de-icing fluid from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Germany, will help alleviate future problems, officials said.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, minister for transportation and ecology, said she wants more information on the fluid shortage.

About 300 people who spent the night at the airport were provided with food and blankets, officials said. Transport ministry official Thierry Mariani paid them a visit and volunteers provided stuff animals for children and gifts of chocolate.

Some passengers and others were critical of what happened at de Gaulle, but officials blamed the situation largely on the weather.

Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeoan told the news agency AFP the airline had not been informed of the problems.

"It is surprising and somewhat [impermissible] that an airport such as Roissy Charles de Gaulle could experience such a supply problem. It is an isolated case in Europe," said Gourgeoan.

Christmas Eve stuck at the airport
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Meanwhile, the Brussels, Belgium, airport reported that operations were nearly back to normal Saturday, with two of three runways operational.

Gatwick Airport and Heathrow Airports in London said airlines were operating, but some delays or cancellations were possible.

Airports across Europe are still struggling to get passengers to their destinations after they were snarled by unexpected snow over the weekend.

Nearly 2,000 passengers at de Gaulle were moved from Terminal 2E to other parts of the airport on Friday because of the weight of snow on a roof, French authorities said, calling the measure "preventative."

Part of the roof of that terminal collapsed in 2004, shortly after the state-of-the-art building was inaugurated. Four people were killed, media reports at the time said.

About a foot of snow had fallen on the roof Friday by the time authorities decided to close the terminal, French media reports said.

French authorities earlier Friday asked airlines to cancel half their morning flights to and from the airport because the de-icing fluid was running low. That led to the cancellation of 400 flights Friday morning -- 200 arrivals and 200 departures.

Then, early in the afternoon, authorities asked airlines to scrap a third of their flights for the rest of the day.

Charles de Gaulle is the second busiest airport in Europe, after Heathrow in London.

Paris' second airport, Orly, has not had to cancel flights because it is not running out of glycol, which is using for de-icing, authorities said.

CNN's Niki Cook and Per Nyberg contributed to this report.