It was the middle of July, peak summer travel season, and the news from Europe was not looking good: A heat-induced “surface defect” briefly closed the runway at London’s Luton Airport. Trains were delayed or canceled across Britain because of overheated tracks. More than two dozen weather stations in France recorded their highest-ever temperatures. And wildfires blazed in tourist regions of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, including just outside of Athens.
“If you were in the center of town, you could look out and see the Acropolis, and in the distance you could see the red haze,” said Peter Vlitas, an executive vice president at Internova Travel Group, who was in Athens during the wildfires, which firefighters have since brought under control.