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A new Columbia University study found that climate change may further harm airlines in the future.
Recently, some planes have been grounded due to extreme heat because some aircraft are restricted from flying when temperatures go beyond 49 degrees Celsius. As temperatures increase, the air gets thinner and planes start having trouble generating enough lift to take off.
The study anticipates that by 2080, peak temperatures at airports will increase by 4 to 8 degrees Celsius, leading to higher instances of delayed or canceled flights. This temperature increase is expected to result from the 3-degree-Celsius rise in the Earth’s temperature due to greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to grounded planes, airlines will also suffer from climate change in other ways. Extreme heat is expected to cause damage to planes. Changes in temperature are also expected to increase turbulence in some airplane routes.
The study also found that rising sea levels may flood some major airports. Small airport runways may also need to be renovated or abandoned as planes will need more space to generate enough lift when temperatures rise.
Solutions to these problems will not come cheap. To enable planes to fly in higher temperatures, engineers may need to build new aircraft with wings that can work in thinner air. During extreme heat, airlines may also experience losses as some planes will need to cut down on cargo or take fewer passengers to reduce weight. More flights may also be rescheduled to take off at a cooler time.