De-icing fluid shortage forces flight cancellations in Berlin

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EasyJet and Germanwings have cancelled a number of flights from Berlin Schonefeld airport today due to aircraft de-icing fluid shortage.

The hub in the south of Germany's capital ran temporarily out of chemical yesterday while aircraft de-icing activity at the city's other airport, Tegel, had to be reduced. The operator estimates that around 200 flights were cancelled yesterday.

Fresh stock has arrived but the increased demand as a result of the cold weather conditions allows only restricted use.

EasyJet reportedly cancelled all morning flights from Schonefeld today, and Germanwings annulled an unspecified number.

"The situation is unique in the history of Berlin's airports," says the spokesman of the airport operator. "Also the number of landings had to be temporarily reduced due to the backlog."

GlobeGround Berlin, the de-icing services provider, says that the cold weather conditions have not only "drastically" affected the distribution of but also production of de-icing fluid.

Airports throughout Europe have had disruptions due to dwindling supplies of the chemical. GlobeGround's managing director, Bernhard Alvensleben, reports that the company has increased storage capacity for de-icing fluid over the years. However, it is currently utilising up to three-quarters of that capacity per day, depending on the outside temperature, volume of precipitation and wind conditions.

Even though the suppliers are contractually obliged to replenish the stock within 24 hours, this has not been possible over the last days, says Alvensleben. Nine orders had not been distributed as of yesterday, some of which had been due for several days.