Jet fuel rationing at Auckland airport is set to stretch out for up to two weeks as replacement of a damaged fuel pipeline continues.
The owner of the pipeline, Refining New Zealand, says in a statement that once the pipeline from the Marden Point refinery to Auckland’s fuel supplier, Wiri Oil Services, ruptured on 17 September, it initially hoped that a clamp could be applied and the pipe returned to service after two days. Further examination showed however that the pipe needs replacement, which is expected to take the remainder of the week.
“All going to plan, we expect to deliver jet fuel via the pipeline into Wiri between midday Sunday and midday Tuesday,” says Refining New Zealand chief executive Sjoerd Post. “From that point Refining NZ expects it will take another 30 hours for the jet fuel to settle, for recertification to be obtained, and to transport to Auckland international airport.”
Air New Zealand says that further flight cancellations are expected through the week, as the shortage of fuel has meant that it is not able to operate its full schedule. In addition, a number of its long-haul services will make stops in Australia and the Pacific Islands to take on additional fuel.
"We are continuing to do everything we can to respond to this infrastructure challenge and further disruption is likely as we move through the rest of this week,” says chief operations integrity and standards officer David Morgan.
Jetstar says on its website that its regional and trans-Tasman services continue as scheduled, but it will cancel some domestic flights.
Virgin Australia has warned that some of its flights to and from New Zealand may be cancelled or rescheduled.
New Zealand’s government is responding to the fuel crisis by bringing in truck tankers and drivers from the defence force to assist with moving jet fuel from the Marsden Point refinery to the airport.