Flights cancelled and trains disrupted after heavy snowfall in Munich

Munich airport reopened on Sunday after Saturday's heavy snowfall, but hundreds of flights have been cancelled and there are still no trains leaving the Bavarian city's main station.

This 2021 file photo shows a man in high-visibility clothing walking over snow-covered railtracks in a freight railway yard in Munich.
This 2021 file photo shows a man in high-visibility clothing walking over snow-covered railtracks in a freight railway yard in Munich. Heavy snowfall in the city caused trains, flights and roads to grind to a halt on Saturday. / AFP / Christof STACHE

Munich airport said on its website that flights were able to resume from 6am on Sunday, but some 560 of around 880 scheduled flights have been cancelled, a spokesperson told German news agency DPA. 

The temporary stop to flights on Saturday impacted take-offs and landings at other airports, too.

Anyone due to fly on Sunday should check the status of their flight before travelling.

More than 40 centimetres of snow fell on Saturday, German weather services said, bringing trains in Munich and wider Bavaria to a stop.

READ ALSO: Heavy snow paralyses parts of southern Germany

No trains

Munich main station is expected to remain closed until at least 10am on Sunday, operator Deutsche Bahn said, asking travellers to postpone any non-urgent trips.

The railway wants to get trains up and running again as soon as possible, but this will only be on a few routes in the first instance and there will be fewer trains than normal, a spokesperson told DPA.

Travellers are still likely to face massive disruptions until at least Monday due to damaged infrastructure.

However, transport authorities said that bus, tram and suburban train services in Munich should resume on Sunday.

Traffic returned to normal on the roads in Bavaria overnight, however, with authorities only reporting minor incidents.

“A few trees fell down, but this only caused accidents with car body damage” a spokesman for the Upper Bavaria South police told DPA.

And in Lower Bavaria, a spokesperson said the number of accidents was also “typical for the time of year”.

The police said the night was similarly quiet on the streets in northern Upper Bavaria and Swabia.

Freezing temperatures 

The wintry weather didn’t just affect Bavaria either. The weather also impacted road travel in parts of northern Germany with one car in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern coming off a snow-covered road and hitting a tree. The driver and one passenger were seriously injured.

Further snowfall is not expected in most of Bavaria on Sunday, but the Eastern Central Uplands and the Alps may see several centimetres of fresh snow.

Forecasters are predicting lows of -6C to -9C on Sunday.

South of the Danube, temperatures could sink as low as -10C to -15C in some areas.

It’s set to remain cold on Monday and Tuesday with only sporadic snowfall.

It’s a similar picture for other parts of Germany, too: occasional snowfall is expected in Lower Saxony, on the North Sea coast and between the Ore Mountains and the Harz Mountains on Sunday.

On Monday, it’s forecast to turn to rain in those areas, but it should remain dry from Berlin to southern Bavaria.


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How would a ‘youth mobility scheme’ between the UK and EU really work?

The EU and the UK could enter into a 'youth mobility' scheme allowing young people to move countries to work, study and live. Here's what we know about the proposal.

How would a 'youth mobility scheme' between the UK and EU really work?

Across the 27 countries of the EU, people of all ages can move countries to work, study, spend a long visit or chase the possibility of love – and all this is possible thanks to EU freedom of movement.

That freedom no longer extends to the UK. As a result of Brexit, a UK national who wants to move to an EU country, or an EU citizen who wants to move to the UK, will need a visa in order to do so.

However, a new ‘mobility scheme’ could re-create some elements of freedom of movement, if the EU and UK can come to an agreement.

The European Commission on Thursday announced proposals for a ‘youth mobility scheme’.

Who would benefit?

First things first, it’s only for the youngsters, older people will have to continue with the time-consuming and often expensive process of getting a visa for study, work or visiting.

The Commission’s proposal is for a scheme that covers people aged 18 to 30. 

Their reasoning is: “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU has resulted in decreased mobility between the EU and the UK. This situation has particularly affected the opportunities for young people to experience life on the other side of the Channel and to benefit from youth, cultural, educational, research and training exchanges.

“The proposal seeks to address in an innovative way the main barriers to mobility for young people experienced today and create a right for young people to travel from the EU to the UK and vice-versa more easily and for a longer period of time.”

How would it work?

We’re still at an early stage, but the proposal is to allow extended stays – for young people to be able to spend up to four years in the EU or UK – under a special type of visa or residency permit. It does not, therefore, replicate the paperwork-free travel of the pre-Brexit era.

The Commission states that travel should not be ‘purpose bound’ to allow young people to undertake a variety of activities while they are abroad.

Under the visa system, people must travel to a country for a specific purpose which has been arranged before they leave – ie in order to study they need a student visa which requires proof of enrolment on a course, or if they intend to work they need a working visa which often requires sponsorship from an employer.

The proposal would allow young people to spend their time in a variety of ways – perhaps some time working, a period of study and then some time travelling or just relaxing.

It would also not be subject to national or Bloc-wide quotas.

It seems that some kind of visa or residency permit would still be required – but it would be issued for up to four years and could be used for a variety of activities.

Fees for this should not be “excessive” – and the UK’s health surcharge would not apply to people travelling under this scheme.

Are there conditions?

Other than the age qualification, the proposal is that young people would have to meet other criteria, including having comprehensive health insurance, plus financial criteria to ensure that they will be able to support themselves while abroad.

The visa/residency permit could be rejected on the ground of threats to public policy, public security or public health.

Will this happen soon?

Slow down – what’s happened today is that the European Commission has made a recommendation to open negotiations.

This now needs to be discussed in the Council of Europe.

If the Council agrees then, and only then, will the EU open negotiations with the UK on the subject. The scheme could then only become a reality if the EU and UK come to an agreement on the terms of the scheme, and then refine the fine details.

Basically we’re talking years if it happens at all, and there’s plenty of steps along the way that could derail the whole process.

Don’t start packing just yet.