The oil companies responsible for transporting, storing and supplying aviation fuel to Auckland Airport, the primary international gateway to New Zealand, are restricting the amount of fuel that airliners can uplift after a single supply pipeline was accidentally severed. The problem began on September 14 when a digging vehicle hit and ruptured the pipe which delivers jet fuel, diesel and petrol. With no alternative means of delivering fuel to the airport, the companies were forced to restrict airlines’ fuel uplifts to just 30% of their normal amount. The move has led to many flights being cancelled and others to divert to alternate airports for refuelling. The journeys of some 3,000 passengers per day were reportedly being affected and Air New Zealand says it has taken the unusual step of restricting ticket sales to all but essential travel to try and reduce the problem.
Refining New Zealand, which owns the affected Marsden Point fuel refinery, is repairing the section of its damaged fuel pipeline which connects the refinery in Marsden Point to Wiri Oil Services Limited in Auckland, which in turns supplies airlines with aviation fuel at the airport.
Auckland Airport Chief Executive, Adrian Littlewood, said the airport is working closely with airlines and other airport stakeholders, including the Board of Airlines Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), 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.
“We will have additional staff in the terminals supporting passengers and addressing any questions or concerns they may have. We strongly recommend that any passengers travelling over the coming days plan ahead and check with their airline for the latest information.”
The pipeline and associated fuel shortages are expected to be fixed sometime between Sunday September 24th and Tuesday 26th.