Fuel shortage prompts flight cancellations at Auckland Airport

Planes parked at Auckland Airport in New Zealand, on June 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A jet fuel shortage is causing flight cancellations at New Zealand's Auckland Airport with disruptions expected to continue.

A total of 23 international and domestic flights have been cancelled in the last 24 hours, Auckland Airport corporate affairs manager Simon Lambourne told Reuters by telephone on Sunday (Sept 17).

Fuel companies are rationing oil because a leaking Auckland supply pipeline has been closed for repairs at New Zealand's only refinery at Marsden Point, Whangarei.

Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, said it could take 10 to 15 days to repair, according to a news report by Radio NZ.

The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport. "Airlines operating at Auckland Airport have had their usual fuel allocations reduced. We appreciate this will be inconvenient and will require airlines to take alternative fuelling measures," said Andrew McNaught, a spokesman of Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited, which represents fuel suppliers.

Airlines would have to carry more fuel to enable return flights without refuelling and stop to fuel at other airports on the way to and from Auckland, McNaught said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

Air New Zealand has cancelled some services to consolidate passenger loads, and is diverting Asian and North American long-haul flights to refuel at Pacific and Australian airports, it said in a media statement. Qantas and Jetstar said in an e-mailed statement that they were working to minimise impact on customers and urged people to check their flight status online.

Auckland Airport is New Zealand's largest international airport with passenger numbers of around 18 million a year. The pipeline also supplies petrol and diesel to Auckland, but Energy Minister Judith Collins said it was unlikely that motorists would be inconvenienced as fuel was being trucked in from the refinery, and from a fuel terminal at Mt Maunganui. "The fuel companies are confident that supply of these fuels will be maintained," Collins said in an media release.

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