More flights cancelled at Auckland Airport

  • 21/09/2017

Airline flights continue to be cancelled at Auckland Airport due to a fuel shortage, although the number of abandoned trips is reducing.

Airlines have been operating on 30 percent of normal supplies since a pipeline carrying jet fuel from the Marsden Point refinery in Northland started leaking last week from damage speculated to have been caused by a digger.

The damaged pipeline's temporary shutdown for repairs has led to more than 100 cancellations.

But Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said the level of disruption to passengers was reducing, with 14 flights expected to be cancelled on Thursday, including eight international and six domestic flights.

"This is a significant reduction on the 36 flights cancelled [on Wednesday]," she said.

It comes as the fuel industry is putting an extra six to eight tanker trucks on the road, 24 hours a day, to deliver jet fuel to Auckland Airport.

Acting as fuel industry spokesman, Mobil Oil NZ manager Andrew McNaught told RNZ on Thursday the trucks will join 14 other tankers transporting fuel between the Northland refinery and Auckland.

But with one aircraft able to take on about seven tankers worth of fuel, Mr McNaught accepted the extra trucks would only play a minor role.

"[This] is why the key part of managing the jet situation at the airport is around demand management, and the airlines adhering to their 30 percent allocation," he said.

Fuel rations will only be lifted at the airport once the damaged pipeline is repaired.

Refining NZ says it has made good progress repairing the line and is still on track to resume deliveries to its Wiri storage depot between Sunday and Tuesday.

The New Zealand Defence Force is also pitching in by sending 20 soldiers to act as drivers so more trucks can hit the road.

Navy ship HMNZS Endeavour also departed Auckland on Thursday morning and will visit the Marsden Point refinery to take onboard up to 4.8 million litres, the equivalent of 150 road tankers of fuel.

It will then transport this to ports around New Zealand so the fuel industry can focus more of their resources on Auckland.