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Environment

Thousands of bags stranded at Paris airport after week of snow costs businesses millions

media Lorries backed up on the A2 motorway this week Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

France is counting the cost of this week’s surprise snowfall, with shopping malls estimating a loss of up to 85 million euros and insurers expecting tens of thousands of claims. About 10,000 bags were wating to be picked up at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday night.

On Friday sunshine melted the snow that fell on much of north and west France this week.

Temperatures rose to between 4°C and 6°C but officials still warned of the danger of ice on the roads and advised people not to use their cars in the Paris region.

Interactive map of France

An 80 kmph speed limit for heavy good vehicles and those carrying dangerous loads was maintained in the Paris region.

The snow and ice had prevented thousands of bags being transferred to their passengers, Paris airport officials said, estimating that about 10,000 were still held up late Thursday.

Air France handles about 60,000 bags a day, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, businesses were estimating their losses:

  • Shopping malls saw the number of shoppers fall by about 2.5 million, their trade group said, putting probable losses at 80-85 million euros;
  • Insurance companies expect 100,000 claims with an extra 10,000 vehicles damaged on Tuesday and Wednesday;
  • Between 15 and 20 supermarkets’ roofs caved in under the weight of the snow, as did that of an exhibition hall in Caen;
  • Road haulage companies expected losses of 60 million euros over three days, with about 10 per cent of the 600,000 heavy goods vehicles stranded by the weather.

The worries were not over everywhere.

Andorra was cut off Friday when the RN320 road linking it to France was blocked by an avalanche.

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