New Zealand jet fuel shortage leaves passengers stranded

Jon Howard
September 19, 2017

"Buncefield blew up in the United Kingdom and Heathrow was on this type of allocation for a couple of years", Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post told RNZ on Monday.

The company also said the fuel supply issue was unlikely to have a material impact on its fiscal-year 2018 results. At least 27 global and domestic flights were cancelled over the weekend.

The temporary shut-down of Refining New Zealand's pipeline into Auckland is impacting all airlines operating into and out of Auckland Airport and limiting the volume of jet fuel able to be uplifted.

The airline warned there would be further disruptions to its domestic jet, regional and transtasman flights.

Long-haul flights have been advised to refuel at other New Zealand airports or worldwide airports, including in Australia and Fiji, while all flights flying into Auckland have been advised to carry enough fuel for its journey out of the hub, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Defence would also provide 20 more tanker drivers, cancel an exercise with Singapore to save fuel, and look at options to let some commuter aircraft refuel at an airforce base.

The New Zealand government, which faces an election on Saturday, came under pressure to intervene amid concerns of a shortage of motor fuel.

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Auckland Airport says work to fix the pipe is underway, but it is not known how much longer the shortage could last.

"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 disruption".

The pipeline, which is Auckland Airport's only supplier of jet fuel, was damaged by a digger, according to local media.

The carrier said about 2,000 passengers are affected by cancellations on Monday. The fuel shortage means that all airlines only have access to 30 percent of normal fuel usage, Air New Zealand said.

Mr McNaught said Auckland Airport had been hit the hardest because it was exclusively supplied by the Marsden Point pipeline.

Prime Minister Bill English said he had advised ministers to work closely with the companies affected.

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