Thousands of air passengers stranded in New Zealand after fuel pipeline bursts

19 September, 2017, 00:57 | Author: Celia Hoffman
  • Air New Zealand passengers getting information after flights were cancelled

"Buncefield blew up in the United Kingdom and Heathrow was on this type of allocation for a couple of years", Refining NZ chief executive Sjoerd Post told RNZ on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) noted the reliance on a single supplier of fuel at key global airports was also an issue on this side of the Tasman, such as the shortages at Melbourne Tullamarine in 2015.

"We are doing all we can to minimise the impact on our customers, however, we also need to take all prudent steps to conserve jet fuel supplies at Auckland Airport", said the airline's Captain David Morgan. At least 27 worldwide and domestic flights were cancelled over the weekend.

Refining NZ says a crack in a jet fuel pipeline from the Marsden Point oil refinery to Wiri near Auckland Airport will take 10 to 15 days to fix.

The airline warned there would be further disruptions to its domestic jet, regional and transtasman flights.

Mr McNaught said 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.

A Naval vessel will be used to transport fuel around the country, while additional tanker drivers will be provided.

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The pipeline operator, Refining NZ, said repairs would take at least a week, possibly two, raising the prospect of ongoing major disruption.

"It's been made very clear to all of those working on this that the Government will commit whatever resources and effort are required to get this sorted out as quickly as possible with a minimum disruption".

The leak was found in a 170-kilometer pipeline, owned and operated by Refining NZ, which connects New Zealand's only oil refinery north of Auckland with a terminal near the city's airport.

The airlines said they would contact passengers with new travel details.

Mr McNaught said Auckland Airport had been hit the hardest because it was exclusively supplied by the Marsden Point pipeline.

Mobil confirmed a leak in the pipeline from Marsden Point to Wiri, South Auckland - which supplies aviation fuel - had been discovered on Thursday.

Air New Zealand said on Monday it had cancelled 17 domestic and trans-Tasman flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, and was taking more fuel on domestic jet services from Wellington or Christchurch to limit refuelling in Auckland.

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