Airlines Cancel NZ Flights, Ration Fuel After Pipeline Leak

Some flights from Auckland are being cancelled due to a fuel shortage
DAVID GRAY REUTERS Some flights from Auckland are being cancelled due to a fuel shortage
Author

19 September, 2017

New Zealand's busiest airport faces up to two weeks of flight disruption after someone digging up a kauri log damaged the only jet fuel pipeline between Northland's Marsden Point refinery and Auckland.

Around 2,000 Air New Zealand passengers will be affected by flight cancellations on Monday, the airline predicted.

Meanwhile, the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) noted the reliance on a single supplier of fuel at key global airports was also an issue on this side of the Tasman, such as the shortages at Melbourne Tullamarine in 2015.

According to Auckland Airport, which sees about 18 million passengers a year, oil companies are responsible for the transport and supply of fuel used by airlines, and that supply has been reduced.

Air New Zealand says it can now only take 30 per cent of its normal fuel usage.

Malaysia Airlines in a statement said it has not cancelled any flight due to fuel rationing in Auckland between Sept 17 and 24. Passengers are advised to check the website of Auckland Airport or their individual carrier, for information on delays and the latest status of their flights.

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Normally direct flights from the USA and Asia will stop at airports in Australia and the Pacific to refuel.

It said airlines would have to find different fuelling methods, including planes carrying more fuel to enable return flights and refuelling at other airports.

"It's been made very clear to all of those working on this that the government will commit whatever resources and effort are required to get this sorted out as quickly as possible with a minimum of disruption", Energy Minister Judith Collins said in a statement.

Auckland Airport says work to fix the pipe is underway, but it is not known how much longer the shortage could last. The contaminated soil has been removed, the refinery said.

"We will have additional staff in the terminals supporting passengers and addressing any questions or concerns they may have", he said.

"Market-based reforms, including fair and reasonable access to on-airport jet fuel storage and distribution systems, are necessary to enable effective competition between suppliers and support reliability and industry resilience".


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