The Machinery of Modern Life Begins to Fail in Europe

Well that might be an overstatement… But in light of the previous post, I decided to actually publish this – which has been languishing in the drafts folder for a short while.

We take for granted our ability to travel where we will, whenever we want. That isn’t working out so well in Europe these days. Jump in German flight delays stokes fears of travel chaos

According to passenger rights portal EUclaim, 15,571 flights were cancelled across Germany between January and June of this year. A further 3,778 took off more than three hours late. For the same period last year, the same figures were 8,826 and 2,268, respectively.

Now this isn’t all the fault of the greedy or incompetent airlines. While some delays are airline specific, the European Air Traffic Control system is falling apart. The organization that oversees all European Air Traffic (Eurocontrol) expects a 53% increase in delays this year.

A French senate report this week said the country’s air traffic control was responsible for a third of all aviation delays in Europe, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Separately, a 2016 report from PwC found that air traffic control strikes had reduced EU GDP by €10.4 billion ($12.1 billion) between 2010 and 2015 through aviation, tourism and freight losses.

There was a push to forbid air traffic controllers from striking, but that wouldn’t be fair to the workers. So European air traffic is a mess.

And just to throw a monkey wrench into the works, the pilots of Ryanair (a large, discount airline) are going to be on strike.

Add it all together and In June, only 50-60% of the flights were on time. (In the US that number is more like 75 to 80%, still not great, but which would you prefer.)

There are other examples of course. Germany is experiencing a deterioration of their electric grid, as the switch out nuclear and coal for “renewables.” Has driven the costs up as well. (Though Australia might be the poster child for too much solar power.)