Unions threaten aviation strikes in Europe and heavy rains in northern India
Europe: Aviation strike warning threatens to disrupt summer travel
The threat of labor strikes by European air traffic controllers (ATCs) during the busy summer travel season could disrupt a third of all flights across the continent. Several unions representing European ATCs are currently negotiating with Eurocontrol, the central organization for air traffic management on the European continent. The Belgium-based Union Syndicale Bruxelles has threatened a walkout within the next six months – with as little as five days’ notice – though at this time only Italian ATCs have a scheduled strike on July 15. As in previous years, threatened and planned industrial action in the aviation industry has been timed to coincide with the peak summer travel season – which is seeing 35% more demand compared to last year. While other unions representing airline staff, flight crews, and ground services have already begun or are threatening to strike, work stoppages by European ATCs are projected to have the greatest impact on the travel season. One-third of all flights across Europe could be disrupted in the event of a Eurocontrol walkout, with up to 12,600 flights delayed or canceled each day. Airports in London, Rome, Athens, Paris, and Lisbon are expected to experience the brunt of travel disruptions caused by any Europe-wide strikes. Despite having ample staff and flight crew, EasyJet canceled 1,700 flights – mostly from London’s Gatwick Airport – scheduled through August due to concerns over ATC labor shortages and capacity issues. A strike by French ATCs on June 6 had previously led Ryanair to cancel 400 flights, with most of them overflights not destined for France. Eurocontrol staff are protesting the unsustainably high demand on air traffic management caused by out-of-date equipment, understaffing, and a loss of 20% of the region’s airspace due to the war in Ukraine. Prolonged negotiations between Eurocontrol and union members will likely result in increased delays and a reduction in flights during the rest of this travel season.
India: Torrential rains in northern region bring casualties, disruption
Torrential rains have triggered heavy flooding and landslides across northern India since July 8, causing casualties, travel disruptions, and damage to private property and critical infrastructure. Local authorities estimate that at least 42 people have died across the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab. Himachal Pradesh has experienced the most destruction, with flash floods and landslides destroying several houses and at least two key bridges, in addition to blocking more than 700 roads and interrupting train services. Several hydropower plants also suspended operations due to flooding, triggering power outages and water shortages across the state. Local officials said on July 11 that at least 300 people, mostly tourists, remained stranded in camps around Lake Chandertal, where aerial evacuations are ongoing. Landslides also disrupted traffic on key highways in Uttarakhand – another tourist hill state in the Himalayas. Some of the heaviest rainfall impacted the city of New Delhi, where the meteorological department recorded the highest precipitation in a single July day in 40 years. The rainfall flooded homes and streets, killing at least three people. Local authorities issued a flooding alert in the city on July 11 as water in the Yamuna River rose to the highest recorded levels in ten years. The Indian government has deployed the army and 39 National Disaster Response Force teams in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Punjab, and other affected areas to conduct relief and rescue operations. While heavy rainfall is common in India during the monsoon season, which typically runs from June to September, these weather events have become more severe due to global climate change; the India Meteorological Department reported that heavy monsoon rains across the country through July 12 have reversed this year’s seasonal rainfall deficit. The weather office has forecast heavy rains across the region until at least July 16, which will likely lead to additional casualties, further infrastructure damage, and disruption to essential services and travel.