Auckland Airport suffers fuel shortage, disrupting airline operations

Over the weekend, Refining New Zealand advised Auckland Airport the aviation fuel pipeline supplying the airport had been damaged, restricting the supply of aviation fuel. Refining New Zealand stated it is working to fix the problem. As a result of the pipeline damage, oil companies are rationing the amount of fuel they are supplying to airlines.

Approximately 27 domestic and international flights have been cancelled as of 17-Sep-2017.

How the industry is reacting:

Auckland Airport CEO Mr Littlewood said the airport is working closely with airlines and other airport stakeholders to monitor the impact of the temporary disruption on airlines and their operations with a particular focus on helping passengers manage through this period of disruption.

Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ) executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said the board’s 28 member airlines that are looking at ways to mitigate the fuel shortage, with options including: Bringing extra fuel on inbound flights to cover outbound flights; diverting some flights to Australian or Pacific Island airports to refuel, and; cancelling some flights According to BARNZ, airlines are “immediately responding” to restrictions on the supply of jet fuel at Auckland Airport following the temporary shutdown of Refining New Zealand’s pipeline into Auckland.

Air New Zealand stated all airlines operating from Auckland Airport are impacted due to the limits in volume of jet fuel able to be uplifted. According to the carrier, the volume of jet fuel able to be uplifted is limited to 30% of normal usage. Air New Zealand is working through the implications for its operations over coming days and is putting a “range of measures in place”. These will include:

  • Cancelling some domestic and Tasman services to consolidate passenger loads. Flight cancellations comprise one service on 17-Sep-2017, seven services on 18-Sep-2017, and 10 services on 19-Sep-2017.
  • Ensuring domestic jet services uplift maximum fuel limits when operating out of Wellington or Christchurch to reduce fuel requirements out of Auckland;
  • Requiring some long-haul services to and from Asia and North America to undertake refuelling stops at selected Pacific or Australian airports.

Qantas and Jetstar Airways stated there may be some disruptions to its schedule in and out of Auckland Airport and the airlines are working to minimise the impact on customers as much as possible. Possible solutions including up-gauging some trans-Tasman Qantas flights from Boeing 737s to A330s.

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