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Extreme temperature pushes airlines to shed fuel, limit passengers

High temperatures make air less dense, reducing engine performance and the amount of lift produced at a given speed

Airports, nearby areas may not get 5G network services anytime soon

Agencies
High temperatures pounding parts of the US are forcing airlines to adjust operations in the hardest-hit cities, reducing fuel or baggage — and in some cases shedding passengers — to help aircraft operate.

Allegiant Airlines, a unit of Allegiant Travel, said it will delay flights if there’s a threat to passenger safety or comfort as temperatures in the US Southwest continue to hit records.  In Las Vegas, where Allegiant is based, excessive heat advisories have been extended through Sunday, and temperatures have been above 100F (38C) since June 30, according to National Weather Service data.
 
High temperatures make air less dense, reducing engine performance and the amount of lift produced at a given speed. 

That generally means lower takeoff weights and longer takeoff distances are needed to produce sufficient lift. 

As a result, carriers are having to reduce pounds on the planes.

On July 17, several Delta Air Lines Inc. passengers voluntarily got off a flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta after aircraft weight issues in the heat caused delays.

“Additional protocols have been put in place to address the operational impacts extreme heat has on aircraft, including loading less fuel to account for weight and balance and schedule refueling along the route when needed,” Delta said in a statement.

Planes are hooked up to external cooling units when they’re at gates, but extreme heat can overcome their ability to work well. Once they leave the gate, in most cases air sucked into the engines is cooled and then circulated in the cabin, a system that’s not ideal when a plane is idled on a tarmac.

American Airlines Group Inc. said it is taking extra steps to make sure it has cooled air on jet bridges hooked to planes. American also performed early maintenance on auxiliary power units that run onboard systems when engines are off, Chief Executive Officer Robert Isom said on a Thursday conference call.

“Though we’ve had a very small number of diversions and delays related to high temperatures, the plan we have in place has allowed us to avoid significant impact,” an American spokeswoman said, adding that the carrier changed its operating plan to avoid weight restrictions.

Delta, American and United Airlines Holdings Inc. said that airport ramp workers, baggage handlers and others laboring outside are getting more frequent breaks, additional water supply, access to shaded areas or air conditioning and cooling towels. The heat has persisted for weeks and is expected to continue through the weekend for much of the US Southwest. In addition to Las Vegas, where the high soared to 116F (47C) on July 16, Phoenix hit 119 on July 19 and 20, and has seen temperatures above 100 since June 14.

Greece evacuates 19K over wildfire in Rhodes
 
Some 19,000 people have been evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes as wildfires continued burning for a sixth day on three fronts, Greek authorities said on Sunday.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection said it was “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country.” 

Local police said that 16,000 people were evacuated by land and 3,000 by sea from 12 villages and several hotels. Six people were briefly hospitalised with respiratory problems and were later released.
A person who fell and broke their leg during a hotel evacuation and a pregnant woman remain hospitalised, the latter in good condition, authorities say. 

Package holiday companies TUI and Jet2 have cancelled flights to Rhodes. Jet2 said it was cancelling five flights due to leave for Rhodes on Sunday.

It said it would fly the five planes to Rhodes empty to bring back customers on the island. TUI said it was cancelling all its flights to the island until at least Tuesday.

British tourist Kevin Evans was evacuated twice on Saturday with his wife and three young children — first from Kiotari to Gennadi, then as the fire approached to the island's capital in the northeast, he told Britain's PA news agency. 

“There were lots of people in Gennadi sent from the hotels — many in just swimsuits having been told to leave everything in the hotel,” he told PA.

“As night fell, we could see the fire on the top of the hills in Kiotari. They said all the hotels were on fire.” Rhodes travel agent Stelios Kotiadis confirmed to the Associated Press that the evacuation was hasty. “There was panic. ... The authorities were overwhelmed,” he said.

But, he said, the abandoned hotels “are in much better condition than reported in social media. ... They will be ready to reopen very soon if Civil Protection gives the go-ahead.” 
 
Kotiadis said he and other travel agents sent buses to the island's southeast to pick up evacuated tourists. 

They had to go the long way around, since the road running down Rhodes' eastern side was blocked in places.

“There were 80-90 people cramming into 50-seater buses,” he said. He added that 90 per cent of the evacuated tourists are from European countries.

The British ambassador to Greece, Matthew Lodge, said the UK government was sending a rapid deployment team to support British nationals on Rhodes.

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that personnel were on their way to Rhodes to set up a help desk at Rhodes International Airport for visitors who have lost their travel documents.

Fire Brigade spokesman Yannis Artopios said that, early Sunday afternoon, 266 firefighters and 49 engines were operating on the ground, together with hundreds of volunteers.

Ten firefighting planes, including two from France, two from Turkey and one from Croatia, are operating in the area, as well as eight helicopters.

There are substantial reinforcements from the European Union.

“Over 450 firefighters and seven airplanes from the EU have been operating in Greece as fires sprout across the country,” EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic tweeted early Sunday afternoon.

In the mountainous part of Rhodes, an active front of the wildfire, firefighters have been trying to stop the blaze from spreading to nearby dense forests.

Southwest of the resort of Kiotari, the main focus of Saturday's evacuations, a trench was being dug to keep the fire from crossing a creek and threatening the village of Gennadi.

The weather remains hot in the Mediterranean country on Sunday. Before midday, temperatures had already reached 38 C (100 F). Winds were low but are notoriously variable in Rhodes, as in other Greek islands.

Some of the evacuated, including tourists, are being accommodated in other hotels, gyms and a conference centre.

A shipping company has offered one of its ships for accommodation. Kotiadis, the travel agent, told the Associated Press that three ships are being used.

Authorities have designated an unprecedentedly large part of the mainland, the whole eastern part of central and southern Greece, plus the islands of Evia and Rhodes as well as large swaths of the southwest, as Category 5, the highest for risk of fire outbreaks as of Sunday.

5 dead after seasonal floods hit China

Floods caused by heavy rain hit eastern China, leaving at least five dead and three missing while over 1,500 people were evacuated,  state media reported on Sunday. China National Radio said the massive floods swept through a village in the Fuyang district of the city of Hangzhou, engulfing many houses on Saturday afternoon. The rain later led to a partial mountain collapse and mudslide, affecting multiple areas in the district and more than 1,600 households suffered power outage, CCTV said. Over 1,500 people were evacuated, the state news agency Xinhua reported. Every year, seasonal flooding hits large parts of China, particularly in the semitropical south. However, some northern regions this year have reported the worst floods in 50 years. AP/PTI

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First Published: Jul 23 2023 | 11:14 PM IST

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