Bangladesh - Authorities Reopen Chittagong Airport and Port
Authorities reopened Chittagong's Shah Amanat International Airport (CGP) at 1600 May 16 after Tropical Cyclone Mahasen (01B) passed. Normal flight operations are set to resume May 17, though lingering disruptions may continue through the day as the backlog of flights is cleared. CGP and Cox's Bazar Airport (CXB) were shut down midday May 15 due to the storm; it is unclear if CXB has also resumed flights, but the airport will also likely face delays through at least May 17. Operations have also resumed at the Port of Chittagong. Lingering disruptions will likely continue for several days at the port, which had been closed since May 13.
Finland - Veolia Bus Drivers Continue Strike in Vantaa
Drivers employed by the Veolia bus company continued their strike May 16 in protest of a new shift schedule. Talks to end the labor action took place on May 15, but were unsuccessful. The work stoppage, which started 0300 May 14, affects Vantaa's internal and cross-town services, including connections between Tikkurila and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL). It also impacts services in Kerava.
Hong Kong SAR - Delays on Light Rail Likely after Derailment Injures Dozens of People
Multiple cars derailed on Hong Kong's light railway in the New Territories region north of the city May 17. More than 60 people sustained injuries in the accident. The train was reportedly traveling too fast and lost control as it made a turn.
iJET Analysis: The Hong Kong Light Rail Network links 68 stops along 36 km (22 miles) of track in the New Territories. Service delays are likely.
Italy - Heavy Weather to Disrupt Northern Region
A band of low pressure brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to northern Italy May 16, and is predicted to continue May 17 before dissipating May 18. Regions affected by the inclement weather include Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige/Suedtirol, Valle d'Aosta, Piemonte, and Liguria. High winds are also affecting coastal areas along the northwestern coast, including the major ports of La Spezia, Genoa, and Livorno.
iJET Analysis: Heavy rainfall has continued for days across the region, creating the possibility for landslides and flooding that may cause hazardous road conditions and force many road closures, especially along coastal highways. Northern Italy is a major shipping corridor; expect shipping disruptions and delivery delays.
Myanmar - Myanmar Airways Plane Overshoots Runway in Shan State
A Myanmar Airways (UB) plane carrying 55 passengers skidded off the runway at Mong Hsat Airport (MOG) in Shan state on May 16, injuring two people. The plane's brakes reportedly failed on landing; the aircraft came to rest after striking a fence 200 meters past the end of the runway. The aircraft was severely damaged in the crash. Authorities have not yet released any information concerning the flight number or type of aircraft.
iJET Analysis: Government-owned Myanmar Airways has a questionable safety record and has suffered from inconsistent scheduling. The May 16 accident is likely to cause flight disruptions for the airline, as it has a limited fleet of aircraft to service domestic routes.
New Caledonia - General Strike Continues to Disrupt Business and Transport
Several unions are continuing a general strike across New Caledonia, prompting business closures and transport disruptions. Protests are occurring in many locations in Noumea, including outside of supermarkets, banks, and fuel stations. Strikers have also erected roadblocks in some areas. Noumea's La Tontouta International Airport (NOU) is reporting flight delays and cancellations, with some international flights affected. It is unclear how long the general strike will continue. At least four unions are participating in the action, providing significant public support.
iJET Analysis: The unions launched the strike May 15 to protest the government's failure to reduce the cost of living. Residents allege that the cost of living in New Caledonia is higher than in mainland France. The unions staged two previous strikes over the matter in 2011 that prompted significant business and transport disruptions, including the cancellation of approximately 50 percent of domestic flights at NOU. The strike has thus far remained peaceful, but localized skirmishes cannot be ruled out, especially near protests and roadblocks.
Taiwan - Mass Anti-Nuclear Rally Planned in Taipei
Anti-nuclear groups have planned a mass rally in Taipei May 19 to protest the government's plans to hold a referendum on the fate of the island's fourth nuclear plant and gain support for the abolition of nuclear power. Protesters are expected to gather at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (map) by 1500 before marching to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the president's office (map) in Zhongzheng district, where a rally is scheduled to occur from 1700-2000. Many representatives then plan to walk to the front gates of the Legislative Yuan (map), also located in Zhongzheng district, to begin a 24-hour fast.
iJET Analysis: Organizers scheduled the rally to coincide with the first anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou's second-term inauguration on May 20. The Ma administration has proposed holding a national referendum by the end of this year to determine whether the construction of the nearly-complete fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City should be halted. Organizers claim that the proposed referendum is a tactical move by the government to continue work on the project, as the high bar set for referendums has torpedoed all previous ballots; more than half of the electorate must vote in a referendum for the result to be valid. Additionally, the motion must be supported by more than half of the voters in order to pass. Beside the significantly high cost involved in the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant, critics are also concerned about its proximity to seismic fault lines and the densely-populated Taipei area. Supporters of nuclear power counter that Taiwan's economic growth will be hampered by electricity shortages and rising energy prices; three nuclear plants already in operation currently provide about 15 percent of the country's electricity. Additional anti-nuclear rallies and counter events are possible in the near term, especially in Taipei. Expect increased security during the event, which will probably draw thousands of protesters. The event will probably remain peaceful, but minor skirmishes with security forces are possible. Severe traffic disruptions are also likely along the protest march route and around the rally venues in Zhongzheng district.
Bangladesh and Myanmar - Tropical Cyclone 01B Makes Landfall
Tropical Cyclone Mahasen (01B) made landfall at Sitakunda, approximately 35 km (22 miles) northwest of Chittagong (map) at about 1530 May 16. The storm has weakened significantly and is forecast to rapidly dissipate as it moves northeast into India. The storm struck the coast with maximum sustained winds of 45 kts (83 kph/51 mph). Electricity outages have been reported north of Chittagong to Cox's Bazaar. Flooding is occurring in low-lying and coastal areas due to heavy rains and storm surge; parts of Chittagong Division are reportedly under 1 meter (3 feet) of water, but the storm crossed land at low tide, lessening the effects of the storm surge. Authorities have issued Danger Warning Signal Seven for coastal districts of Cox's Bazaar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Bhola, Borguna, Patuakhali, and Barisal, indicating that those areas are most likely to experience severe weather and a near-direct crossover from the storm. A Danger Warning Signal Five remains in effect for the Mongla Port and coastal districts of Pirozpur, Jhalokathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, and Satkhira; these areas are forecast to receive severe weather, but the storm is predicted to move east of those districts.
iJET Analysis: High winds gusts and rainfall could still cause significant damage as the storm moves through northeast India. Heavy rains and storm surge could still lead to flooding along the Karnafali River in Chittagong; the Chittagong City Corporation has declared coastal wards 10, 11, 26, and 37-41 as vulnerable to the disaster. The Maheshkali Channel in Cox's Bazaar and the Naf River that forms the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh are also at high risk of storm surge flooding. Road and bridge closures in affected areas are likely; expect the suspension of ferry services. Inland flooding is possible in northeastern India, southwestern Bangladesh, and northwestern Myanmar as the storm moves inland. Meteorologists predict high winds and heavy rains for Mizoram and Tripura states in northeastern India on May 17. As of May 15, all flights have been halted at Cox's Bazaar (CXB) and Chittagong (CGP). Both airports will remain closed until the storm has passed. Flight disruptions are also possible at regional airports in Kyaukpyu (KYP) and Sittwe (AKY) in Myanmar. Operations in the Port of Chittagong were suspended on May 13, and it may take several days for port workers to clear shipping backlogs once the port reopens. Similar disruptions are also likely at ports in Myanmar. Preparation is highly advisable if operating in coastal areas between the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar and the India/Bangladesh border area in southwestern Bangladesh.
Belgium - Baggage Handlers Return to Work at Brussels National Airport
Swissport's baggage handling workers at Brussels National Airport (BRU) have reached an agreement with airport representatives, and will return to work after staging a four-day strike.
iJET Analysis: An estimated 20,000 pieces of luggage have piled up in the airport's main terminal since May 12; expect lingering service disruptions as workers process extensive backlogs of luggage and cargo. On May 13 and 14, 7 percent of the airport's flights were canceled and many more delayed due to the industrial action. Swissport is the largest baggage handler at BRU, employing around 1,500 workers.
Croatia - Indefinite Strike of Croatia Airlines (OU) Employees Continues
Pilots and flight attendants for Croatia Airlines (OU) continued an indefinite strike for a second day May 15, with unions showing no signs of suspending the action. At least 22 mostly short-haul flights were canceled across the airline's network. Another 23 flights were operated by alternate carriers for Croatia Airlines, in an effort to minimize cancellations. Zagreb Airport (ZAG) is Croatia Airlines' hub; the airline operates domestic, continental, and long-haul flights, including destinations such as Tel Aviv, Israel and the US.
iJET Analysis: The strike, which began at 0600 May 14, will persist until unions and airline representatives reach a deal on new contracts for union members. Croatia Airlines has been experiencing financial difficulties; it recently reduced salaries for many of its employees and announced intentions to cut 200 positions. Most passengers on affected flights were being transferred to alternate flights provided by other carriers. However, airlines carrying displaced Croatia Airlines passengers were likely to face minor delays due to possible last-minute spikes in demand for tickets.
France - Pilots of CityJet Airline Threaten Strike
CityJet (WX) airline pilots have threatened to strike beginning May 17 to protest the proposed sale of the airline. Significant delays and cancellations are likely on all CityJet flights if negotiations between the pilots' unions and airline management fail. CityJet is an Ireland-based subsidiary of Air France (AF) and operates flights to 25 destinations in Europe. The airline's hubs are at London City Airport (LCY) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
iJET Analysis: Under French law, unions must file a strike notice 48 hours prior to the action in order to give airlines time to prepare; this has not yet occurred. Air France announced plans to sell the regional airline as early as summer 2013; aviation unions claim new development plans will likely have negative consequences for the airline's staff.
Maldives - Severe Weather Causes Flooding on Most Islands; Male Reported Normal
Significant flooding caused by weeks of heavy rains is damaging homes, crops, and infrastructure in many atolls of the Maldives. Authorities said that 24 of the country's 26 atolls are affected, with some of the worst-hit areas including Hoarafushi island on Haa Alif Atoll, Hanimaadhoo island in Haa Dhall Atoll, and Gan's Thundee district in Laam Atoll. Significant damage is also reported in Nolhivaram, Haa Dhaal Atoll; Fuvahmulah, Gnaviyani Atoll; and Kelaa, Haa Alif Atoll. Periodic storms are forecast to continue in the coming days and will likely intensify damage. Authorities are on alert for a potential disease outbreak due to the flooding, especially as high waters have led to the overflow of sewage systems in some areas. Many smaller islands are also reporting food shortages as the inclement weather has disrupted shipments from Male. Some damage has also been reported in the capital, but businesses and transport operations remain largely normal. Resort operators are not currently reporting major disruptions.
Nepal - Nepal Airlines Plane Skids off Runway in Jomsom
Nepal Airlines flight RA 555 skidded off the runway and crashed into the banks of the Kaligandaki River at approximately 0830 on May 16 as it attempted to land at Jomsom Airport (JMO) in Mustang district. All 18 passengers, who were Nepalese and Japanese nationals, and three crewmembers on board sustained injuries in the accident, with five in serious condition. The flight originated from Pokhara.
Panama - Government Modifies Electricity Rationing Order
Government officials modified the current order on electricity usage for private and public institutions that is to take effect May 16. The Secretary of Energy stated that the government is not rejecting the possibility of scheduled power outages if conditions do not improve. Obligatory energy-saving practices are still in effect, including the following:
- Public and private institutions, including schools (except those for children under six years old), cannot use air conditioners 1100-1400 daily; large shopping malls cannot use air conditioners 1000-1500 daily.
- Supermarkets, casinos, bars, nightclubs, and theaters can operate on normal schedules if adhering to restrictions.
- Government offices operate on a limited schedule of 0830-1530.
- All electronic shop signs may only be turned on 1800-2200.
- Businesses with private energy sources such as fuel-powered generators can continue to use appliances at will.
iJET Analysis: If water levels remain low, energy officials may impose rolling brownouts or blackouts to reduce consumption, which in turn would lead to more significant business disruptions. Many large businesses have back-up generators to offset electricity shortages in the event of further rationing. Small- to medium-sized businesses with fewer resources could be significantly affected by rationing. Panama receives much of its electricity from hydroelectric plants. Current estimates show a 5-percent deficit in energy capabilities over the next 10-15 weeks due to low water levels at hydroelectric facilities. Though meteorologists are predicting significant rainfall during the coming rainy season, a delay in the start of the season is causing energy shortfalls. Government officials ordered three of Panama's largest hydroelectric plants to close May 12 to save energy. The plants will remain closed until further notice. Electricity is being provided to the country through thermal power plants and smaller hydroelectric plants. Plan in advance for possible power outages. Follow utility recommendations for power-conserving measures. Ensure that business continuity plans include provisions for extended power outages.
Bangladesh and Myanmar - Tropical Cyclone 01B
Tropical Cyclone Mahasen (01B) will gradually strengthen as it continues to track northeastward through the Bay of Bengal May 15. The storm is expected to reach maximum sustained winds of 55 kts (102 kph/63 mph) as it makes landfall in Chittagong Division (map ), Bangladesh late May 16. On May 15, the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments called for mass evacuations in coastal areas of Chittagong Division and northwest Rakhine State respectively, which are predicted to be most affected by the storm; more than 166,000 people are being relocated to emergency centers in Rakhine State.
iJET Analysis: Flooding is highly likely to occur in low-lying and coastal areas due to heavy rains and storm surge. High winds could cause significant damage. The threat of storm-surge flooding is high along the Karnafali River in Chittagong; the Chittagong City Corporation has declared coastal wards 10, 11, 26, and 37-41 as vulnerable to the disaster. The Maheshkali Channel in Cox's Bazaar and the Naf River that forms the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh are also at high risk of storm surge flooding. Road and bridge closures in affected areas are likely; expect the suspension of ferry services. Inland flooding is possible in northeastern India, southwestern Bangladesh, and northwestern Myanmar as the storm moves inland. Anticipate flight disruptions at regional airports in Kyaukpyu (KYP), Sittwe (AKY), Cox's Bazaar (CXB), and Chittagong (CGP). The storm will probably not affect the Andaman and Nicobar islands directly, although associated thunderstorms are forecast through May 17. Meteorologists predict high winds and heavy rains for Mizoram and Tripura states in northeastern India on May 17.
Bangladeshi authorities have issued Danger Warning Signal Seven for coastal districts of Cox's Bazaar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Bhola, Borguna, Patuakhali, and Barisal, indicating that those areas will experience severe weather and a near-direct crossover from the storm. Authorities issued Danger Warning Signal Five for the Mongla Port and coastal districts of Pirozpur, Jhalokathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, and Satkhira; these areas are forecast to receive severe weather, but the storm is predicted to move east of those districts. Operations in the Port of Chittagong were suspended on May 13. Shipping disruptions are also likely at ports in Myanmar, and the storm is already affecting shipping in the Bay of Bengal. The forecast track may change before the system crosses the coast. Preparation is highly advisable if operating in coastal areas between the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar and the India/Bangladesh border area in southwestern Bangladesh.
Belgium - Baggage Handlers at Brussels National Airport Continue Strike
Swissport's baggage handling workers at Brussels National Airport (BRU) continue an indefinite strike May 15. On May 14, 7 percent of the airport's flights were canceled and many more delayed due to the industrial action. Twenty-eight airlines and their cargo service subsidiaries use the company's services, and will continue to experience major baggage disruptions until after the strike ends. BRU is advising passengers to travel with only carry-on luggage if possible, in order to reduce the extent of the delays.
iJET Analysis: Expect lingering service disruptions as workers process extensive backlogs of luggage and cargo. The strike will continue until workers' unions come to an agreement with airport representatives. Swissport is the largest baggage handler at BRU, employing around 1,500 workers. Significant flight delays and cancellations are likely to continue for the duration of the strike, as it is unlikely that BRU will be able to find sufficient replacement workers.
Germany - Train Service Disruptions Through Berlin
Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) announced May 14 that rail passengers traveling through Berlin's main train station will experience route delays of up to 30 minutes through at least May 17 due to a train derailment.
iJET Analysis: Services most likely to see delays include routes in the direction of Hamburg, Hannover, and Dresden; some of these routes have been redirected through Berlin's eastern train station. An empty long-distance Eurocity train derailed at the station on May 13. Repairs continue to block the station's north-south connection, forcing all trains to detour around the accident site.
Greece - Air Traffic Controllers to Join General Strike May 16
The Greek air traffic controller (ATC) union is planning to hold a four-hour strike 1200-1600 May 16 in conjunction with a general strike planned by public and private sector unions.
iJET Analysis: This industrial action may force airports to suspend flights nationwide, halting both domestic and international flights. The strike will affect all flights in Greek airspace, with lingering delays continuing for hours or even days as backlogs are cleared. While most Greek ATC strikes are ruled illegal before the date of the planned action, this strike was announced under the umbrella of the Greek Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY), and due to its short duration period will most likely not be appealed. ADEDY, along with private sector union General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), will stage a four-hour work stoppage 1200-1600 on May 16. A mass rally will take place on Klafthmonos Square (map) beginning at 1230, and possibly moving to Syntagma Square. Protesters will probably block nearby streets, creating severe traffic delays. Left-wing activists often use mass protests to incite violence; rioters have previously attacked police, as well as police and government facilities. Nearby businesses could sustain collateral damage, but any violence will probably be localized and quickly isolated. Additional protests across Greece are likely, including in Thessaloniki and Patra.
The actions are intended to protest a May 13 government decision to ban a week-long strike beginning May 17 by high school teachers that would disrupt university entrance exams. The government has previously banned industrial actions, often causing violent clashes as riot police force workers back to work. The strike is organized by ADEDY, which represents 500,000 public sector workers, and GSEE, representing about 2 million private sector workers.
Ireland - Bus Service Workers Suspend Strike
Bus Eireann services resumed operations across Ireland May 14 after unions agreed to a 48-hour suspension to an ongoing strike.
iJET Analysis: Services had been severely disrupted for two days due to a strike by members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) in response to cost reduction measures. As of May 14, all commuter services and inter-city services were operating normally. However, if negotiations prove unsuccessful, the strike could resume on May 16. On May 13, 95 percent of the national bus service provider's services were suspended after NBRU, the largest union at Bus Eireann, called its members to stage a nationwide strike that began late May 12. Services to and from Northern Ireland have also been affected, with only a greatly-limited service operating between Dublin and Belfast, Donegal, Derry, and Cork. Bus Eireann operates commuter, local, and city services in major cities across Ireland. The union represents 1,100 of the services 2,500 employees; other unions' members did not cross the NBRU picket line.
Nigeria - State of Emergency Declared in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe
President Goodluck Jonathan on May 14 declared a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states in response to increased attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. While it is unclear precisely what powers the president will have under the declaration, Jonathan has vowed to send additional troops to the already heavily militarized northeastern states to counter insurgent activities.
iJET Analysis: The president must get approval from Nigeria's legislature before the state of emergency becomes official. Jonathan previously replaced democratically-elected local officials when he declared a state of emergency in 2004 and 2006, but vowed not to take similar measures at the state level. Boko Haram militants regularly carry out attacks across northeastern Nigeria, targeting security patrols, government officials, and civilians. On May 7, Boko Haram militants launched a major assault in Bama, about 72 km (45 miles) southeast of Borno state capital, Maiduguri, in which 55 people died, including several police officers and prison guards. Gunmen associated with the terrorist group also attacked a church in Adamawa State two days earlier, killing at least 10 people and wounding 12 others. On April 19-20, major fighting in Baga, Borno State, between Boko Haram militants and joint forces from Nigeria, Niger, and Chad left at least 187 people dead, including many civilians.