A shortage of aviation fuel has caused dozens of flight cancellations at New Zealand's Auckland Airport, with airlines advised to carry enough fuel for return flights after a digger apparently damaged an oil pipeline while trying to extract kauri logs.
- A fuel shortage at Auckland Airport is expected to cause disruptions in coming days
- Auckland Airport handles more than 18.5 million passengers a year
- It could take up to two weeks to restore the fuel supply
About 27 domestic and international flights have been cancelled so far this weekend, a statement on Auckland Airport's website said.
The statement said fuel companies were rationing the amount of oil they supplied airlines because a leaking Auckland supply pipeline was being repaired at Marsden Point.
All supplies of aviation fuel to Auckland Airport were cut after a digger trying to extract kauri tree logs cut the oil pipeline on Thursday, according to a report from New Zealand Herald.
It could take between 10 and 14 days to restore the fuel supply.
The company told Auckland Airport it was working on repairing a section of its damaged fuel pipeline which connects the refinery to Wiri Oil Services Limited in Auckland — which supplies airlines with aviation fuel at the airport.
"Airlines operating at Auckland Airport have had their usual fuel allocations reduced," Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited spokesman Andrew McNaught said.
"We appreciate this will be inconvenient and will require airlines to take alternative fuelling measures."
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.
Passengers advised to plan ahead, check with airlines
Auckland Airport is New Zealand's largest international airport and handles more than 18.5 million passengers a year.
Chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the airport was working with airlines to monitor the impact of the disruption, with a focus on assisting passengers.
"We will have additional staff in the terminals supporting passengers and addressing any questions or concerns they may have," he said.
"We strongly recommend that any passengers travelling over the coming days plan ahead and check with their airline for the latest information."
Marsden Point owner Refining NZ spokesman Greg McNeill told the New Zealand Herald the issue began on Thursday, when a leak was spotted in the pipeline that supplies aviation fuel from Marsden Point to Wiri, near the airport.
Mr McNeill said the pipeline was cut by external damage, but did not confirm if it was caused by a digger was trying to lift a kauri log.
Prime Minister Bill English told reporters he had instructed ministers to work closely with the companies and offer Government assistance.