Airlines are now able to uplift 80% of their usual jet fuel allocations at Auckland airport, with signs that the crisis caused by the severing of a fuel pipeline is starting to ease.
New Zealand energy minister Judith Collins says that a replacement of the damaged part of the pipeline from the Marsden Point refinery to the airport’s fuel farm has been completed, and later today will start operating at its allowable capacity from the afternoon of 26 September.
In the meantime, trucks have been delivering jet fuel from storage tanks at Wynyard Wharf and the refinery.
“Two million litres of jet fuel has now arrived at Auckland Airport’s JUHI storage facility, and 15 million litres is expected to be available by the end of the week,” says Collins.
She adds that although it may take another week before full supply is available at the airport, international operations at Auckland have largely returned to normal with only three flight cancellations planned for 26 September.
When the pipeline was severed on 16 September, airlines were initially only allowed to uplift 30% of their usual allocations, leading to major flight consolidations and a number of services requiring intermediate stops to take on additional fuel. The fuel rationing eased over the weekend to allow carriers to take 50% of their usual quota, before rising to 80% on 26 September.
To manage the situation, Qantas took the step of flying in Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A330s as fuel tankers, with the fuel decanted to other Qantas group jets in Auckland. Air New Zealand, meanwhile, fueled up some of its jets flying on long-haul services in Wellington, and added intermediate stops in the Pacific and Australia on some services.
Collins praised carriers for their response to the fuel crisis, saying: “It may be another week before the allocation to airlines is back at 100% but they are doing a great job at managing this constraint.”