Dutch close sea barriers, cancel flights as storm rages

Multiple flights were delayed or cancelled at Schiphol International Airport on Jan 3, 2018.
Multiple flights were delayed or cancelled at Schiphol International Airport on Jan 3, 2018. PHOTO: TWITTER/@SCHIPHOL

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Storm winds forced Dutch authorities to cancel scores of flights and, for the first time, shut all sea barriers on major waterways on Wednesday (Dec 3).

Gusts of up to 120 kph (75 mph) hit Schiphol, Europe’s third-busiest airport. More than a fifth of the planned 1,200 incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled, and many of the rest suffered long delays, an airport spokesman said. 

Authorities closed the five sea barriers set up to prevent flooding in a country where large areas are below sea level.  Some of the barriers had not been closed in more than 10 years.

It was the first time that all five, completed between 1976 and 2002, had been shut at the same time. 

Airlines cancelled 176 out of a total of more than 1,200 incoming and outgoing flights on Wednesday morning, a spokesman for the Dutch national airport said.

Flights that were not cancelled faced an average delay of about an hour, the airport said.

Schiphol is Europe's third busiest airport in number of total passengers per year, after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.