Long-haul intercontinental carriers may be unable to transport fuel over great distances.
- The kerosene crisis at Cape Town International Airport has suffered another setback due to a further delay in the arrival of cargo, after airlines were initially told only to reduce consumption there fuel.
- The latest estimate is that the jet fuel situation in Cape Town will not return to normal until October 3.
- The Southern African Airlines Association has expressed concern over jet fuel rationing in Cape Town, saying it places additional burdens on airlines and could ultimately disrupt schedules and lead to the cancellation of flights.
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Rough seas are further delaying the arrival of a cargo of jet fuel, worsening the supply shortage at Cape Town’s international airport and raising fears of disruption and possibly canceled flights.
News24 Business reported on Monday that Cape Town International only had enough jet fuel to last between four and six days after bad weather delayed a supply shipment, which was due to arrive in the local port last Sunday.
This shipment was supposed to arrive at the end of the week. The initial estimate was that supplies would stabilize by October 2, but according to an airline CEO whose identity is known to News24 but who requested anonymity, the latest normalization estimate is likely only by October 3.
Airports Company SA (ACSA) confirmed on Tuesday evening that unfortunately adverse sea conditions continue and could delay the vessel carrying jet fuel by another day.
Meanwhile, fuel suppliers have delivered an additional 2 million liters of jet fuel to the airport this week in a bid to ease pressure on supplies.
Since the ACSA issued the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) last week, airlines and fuel suppliers have been committed to determining the necessary jet fuel reductions and reducing intake, while ensuring the continuity of operations.
According to ACSA, the airport currently continues to operate with 4.5 days of jet fuel stock and it will continue to monitor, engage fuel suppliers and airlines and provide regular updates on the matter.
“ACSA continues to engage fuel suppliers and airlines to prevent the risk of fuel shortages and to prevent and minimize flight disruptions,” he said.
But the current jet fuel rationing in Cape Town is a big concern for the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), which represents most airlines in the Southern African Development Community region ( SADC). AASA expects jet fuel rationing is likely to lead to disruption of airline schedules and possibly canceled flights and says the aviation industry and South African economy can ill afford it.
“AASA appreciates ACSA’s efforts to manage fuel stocks at Cape Town International Airport. However, the escalation of jet fuel rations highlights South Africa’s vulnerability due to its reliance on imported kerosene,” AASA said in a statement. Tuesday night.
It calls on the government and fuel suppliers to urgently put in place “a much more robust resilience plan” to ensure sufficient stocks of aviation fuel are always available to airlines.
AASA points out that while local and regional short-haul airlines are able to perform refueling – that is, carrying more fuel than is optimally needed for a single flight – to maintain their schedules, they must incur additional costs in doing so. In effect, the extra fuel load increases the overall weight of the aircraft, in turn burning more fuel just to carry the extra emergency supply. More maintenance is also required as engines and many other aircraft components work harder.
“This puts additional cost pressure on airlines at a time when they are already grappling with a more than 100% increase in the price of jet fuel, higher financial charges and interest rates, and a increased labor and other costs,” the AASA says.
Also, long-haul intercontinental carriers may not be able to transport fuel over long distances. According to the AASA, these airlines may have to resort to intermediate in-flight refueling stops or travel to Johannesburg or Durban to refuel before starting their long return flights north and east.
“In such cases, we urge the government to waive the additional air navigation and airport charges that airlines will incur in order to comply with fuel rations in Cape Town and continue to provide the intercontinental connectivity that local airlines and the whole economy of the region depends on it,” says AASA.
From March to May this year, there was a fuel crisis at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg after flooding in KwaZulu-Natal damaged railways and fuel infrastructure. This has forced some international airlines to divert flights to Durban and Windhoek to refuel on their return trips.