LONDON (Reuters) - Snow and freezing temperatures grounded flights across northern Europe on Monday, with travelers trying to get away for Christmas set to be frustrated further with more severe weather on the horizon.
British Airways, which is losing up to 10 million pounds ($15.5 million) a day according to analysts, said arctic conditions would continue to cause major disruption to its operations and that more travel chaos was possible.
"We have BA down to deliver revenues of around 27 million pounds a day in this quarter so assuming some 70 percent of that is fixed cost it is probably losing about 8 million pounds a day of profit," said Davy Stockbrokers analyst Stephen Furlong, who added that the vast majority of BA's profit comes from its operations out of London's Heathrow airport.
BA said Heathrow airport would only be using one of its two runways on Tuesday -- as on Monday -- meaning the airport would be operating at a significantly reduced capacity.
It canceled all short-haul flights after midday on Monday and some long-haul services.
Over 1,000 flights at Germany's main airports were canceled and many more delayed after up to 40 cm of fresh snow blanketed the country on Monday, though Lufthansa said it was confident it would operate a full service by Wednesday.
Shares in BA and Lufthansa were 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent down by 1545 GMT as the weather hampered operations in one of the busiest weeks of the year for air travel.
London's mayor Boris Johnson called for a "Herculean effort" by Heathrow operator BAA and its contractors to get planes back in the air.
Britain's Met Office said it expected "freezing temperatures and light to heavy snow" around Heathrow on Monday afternoon, with further snow expected on Tuesday morning.
BAA, owned by Spain's Ferrovial, expects more flights to leave Heathrow on Monday than on Sunday, despite forecasts for more severe weather, but urged customers not to travel to the airport unless they have a confirmed booking on one of the flights that is operating.
BAA Chief Executive Colin Matthews told Sky News that "more flights would have to be canceled" and that the airport would not run at full capacity for "some days to come."
Eurocontrol, the umbrella group for air-traffic control across 38 countries, estimates more 22,500 flights across Europe flights will be canceled on Monday.
"We have today seen reductions up to 65 percent for major airports like Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, London and Berlin Tegel," said Ken Thomas, operations manager at Eurocontrol. "Many of the delays we are seeing now in Europe is because of the de-icing situation."
The severe winter weather could hit Britain's economy and plunge retailers into the red over their peak Christmas trading period, according to Howard Archer, the chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.
"The longer the severe weather persists, the greater the impact will be, even allowing for the fact that much of any lost production and construction activity can be made up," he said.
"However, while in normal times most of any retail sales lost to bad weather is also normally made up, this may be less the case than normal due to the proximity of Christmas."
BA said it was aiming to run as many flights as it could from Gatwick, south of London, and the smaller London City airport in the east of the city.
A BA spokeswoman said it was too early to give any estimates on the likely cost of the disruption. The airline said it lost around 15 to 20 million pounds a day in passenger and freight revenue during the Icelandic ash closure.
BA has had a tough year, with a series of strikes by cabin crew costing in 150 million pounds and the dispute unresolved.
(Additional reporting by Sarah Young, Mark Potter, Keith Weir, Mohammed Abbas, Julie Crust and Lorraine Turner in London, Angelika Gruber in Munich, and Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt, Ben Deighton in Brussels; Editing by David Cowell)