For a third day today, Air New Zealand has cancelled some flights between Wellington and Auckland because of the jet fuel shortage at Auckland Airport. The shortage has been caused by damage to the pipeline from the Marsden Point oil refinery; repairs to the pipeline will take till the middle of next week.
For the first two days of the fuel shortage, Air New Zealand cancelled four Wellington/Auckland flights each day. Today they increased the number to six.
However all domestic flights were returning to normal on Thursday, with no further cancellations announced.
News from Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s domestic network is operating largely as normal and the situation is beginning to stablise as the airline manages its way through the impact of Refining New Zealand’s temporary shut-down of its pipeline to Auckland.
Air New Zealand has implemented a range of measures since Sunday in response to the restriction in fuel supply. It now believes the need for further schedule disruptions will ease and has therefore moved to relax restrictions on fare sales.
In addition to cancellations advised to date, tomorrow’s return Auckland-Houston service is the only new cancellation to be confirmed today. This brings the total number of cancellations since Sunday to 41.
Passengers due to travel on the cancelled NZ28 and NZ29 services to or from Houston on 21 September will be accommodated on alternative services and the airline is currently working through the process of notifying customers.
Air New Zealand has also lifted its restriction on long-haul ticket sales for services over the coming days, with some restrictions remaining on selected trans-Tasman and Pacific Island services.
The airline is continuing to implement a range of measures to reduce fuel uplift in Auckland. Today this will include operating an empty Boeing 787-9 to Wellington to be fueled in preparation for this evening’s flight to Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The airline remains in close dialogue with key stakeholders including Government, its agencies and fuel companies. Based on information available at this stage, Air New Zealand believes the fuel supply issue is unlikely to have a material impact on the FY18 annual result.
Cancellations and schedule changes are being communicated directly to affected customers as information becomes available.
News from AirNZ – September 19
Air New Zealand is continuing to experience disruption to its services following the temporary shut-down of Refining New Zealand’s pipeline to Auckland.
The airline cancelled four trans-Tasman and 26 domestic flights between Sunday and Wednesday. Unfortunately, is it now necessary to cancel further services due to operate tomorrow. These include five Australian services, two Fiji services and a return service to Ho chi Minh, Vietnam. This brings total cancellations so far to 26 domestic, 11 Tasman and Pacific Island and two international long haul.
Air New Zealand estimates up to 3000 customers will be impacted by cancellations tomorrow with around 6000 inconvenienced by unexpected schedule changes. In most cases passengers are being accommodated on alternative services and the airline is working through the process of notifying customers. Further disruptions can be expected in coming days.
In order to reduce overall pressure on the network and ensure customers already booked are able to be re-accommodated with minimum disruption, Air New Zealand is taking the unusual step of restricting ticket sales. This includes stopping all sales on some selected international services.
Efforts are also being made to reduce cargo loads. Air New Zealand will no longer accept ad hoc cargo shipments (other than urgent medical equipment) and any pre-arranged consignments heavier than the booked weight will not be accepted for carriage.
This afternoon the airline also began refueling wide body long-haul aircraft at Wellington Airport to supplement the refueling stops long-haul flights have been making at Australian and Pacific airports in an effort to reduce fuel uptake in Auckland.
The airline remains in close dialogue with key stakeholders including Government, its agencies and fuel companies.
Chief Operations Integrity and Standards Officer Captain David Morgan says Air New Zealand is doing all it can to minimise disruption to customers under very challenging circumstances. “Our teams are working hard on solutions and we are communicating to impacted customers as quickly as we can. We appreciate their continued patience as we respond to this developing situation.”
Cancellations and schedule changes are being communicated directly to affected customers as information becomes available. Media and customers are advised to keep an eye on the Air New Zealand Travel Alerts page for up to date information on affected services.
Customers currently booked to travel into or out of Auckland this week are advised to ensure their contact details have been included in their booking and that they have signed up for travel alerts. Alternatively customers can download the Air NZ mobile app to view up-to-date detailson their bookings and be notified of any flight changes.
News from AirNZ – September 18
Air New Zealand is continuing to experience disruptions to its services following the temporary shut-down of Refining New Zealand’s pipeline into Auckland that is restricting the volume of fuel available to all airlines to 30% of normal usage. To date the airline has cancelled four trans-Tasman and 14 domestic flights, but given its operations are not yet meeting the 30% target further schedule changes are now necessary.
Further domestic jet, regional and trans-Tasman flight disruptions can be expected over coming days. In addition to this, most long haul flights departing Auckland this evening will be required to undertake refueling stops at Pacific or Australian airports.
These schedule changes are being progressively communicated to affected customers. The Air New Zealand Travel Alertspage will be updated as information becomes available.
Air New Zealand Chief Operations Integrity & Standards Officer Captain David Morgan says, “We are continuing to do everything we can to respond to this infrastructure challenge and further disruption is likely as we move through the rest of this week. We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused and continue to ask for their patience.”
Customers currently booked to travel into or out of Auckland over the coming week are advised to ensure their contact details have been included in their booking and that they have authorised Air New Zealand to send them travel alerts. Customers wanting to sign up for travel alerts can do so here . Alternatively customers can download the Air NZ mobile app to view up-to-date details and be notified of any flight changes.
Earlier News from AirNZ – September 18
Air New Zealand is continuing to experience disruption to its operations following the temporary shut-down of Refining New Zealand’s pipeline into Auckland. The shut-down is impacting all airlines operating into and out of Auckland Airport and limiting the volume of jet fuel able to be uplifted to 30% of normal usage. It’s estimated around 2,000 Air New Zealand customers will be affected by flight cancellations today as the airline works to consolidate passenger loads and minimise fuel usage.
In addition to the cancellations, some long-haul services to and from Asia and North America will undertake refueling stops at selected Pacific or Australian airports. To date, three North America services have refueled in Nadi, Fiji. Today flight NZ99 from Auckland to Narita, Tokyo will make a refueling stop in Brisbane.
The airline is also ensuring domestic jet services uplift maximum fuel limits when operating out of Wellington or Christchurch to limit refueling in Auckland.
Air New Zealand Chief Operations Integrity & Standards Officer Captain David Morgan says the refueling stops completed overnight went well and the practice will continue to alleviate pressure on fuel supplies in Auckland.
“Aviation is a critical transport industry and the lifeblood for tourism and we are naturally extremely disappointed with this infrastructure failure,” Captain Morgan says.
Based on information available at this stage, Air New Zealand believes the fuel supply issue is unlikely to have a material impact on the FY18 annual result.
Any necessary schedule changes are being communicated to affected customers directly. A full list of flight cancellations is available on the Air New Zealand Travel Alerts page and will be updated regularly. Customers currently booked to travel into or out of Auckland over the coming week are advised to keep an eye on the Travel Alerts page of the Air New Zealand website for the latest information.
News from Refining NZ – September 18
We are running to schedule with our time-plan for repairing the pipe, returning the pipeline to service and getting jet fuel delivered into Wiri Oil Services Ltd (WOSL). As per our earlier update (below), we are expecting to deliver jet fuel into WOSL between midday Sunday the 24th and midday Tuesday the 26th. From that point we estimate it will take another 30 hours for the jet fuel to settle, for recertification to be obtained, and to transport to the airport for final use.
Our repair team has made good progress on the dewatering of the first of two pits required to weld stopples (internal plugs) in place in the pipeline. Construction of the second stopple pit has started.
We are in the process of hazard assessing of the first stopple before it can be welded in place.
The stopples are an important part of the repair process. They prevent the contents of the line from emptying into the repair zone.
Welding and preparation of the replacement pipe section has started, ready for installation later in the week.
During the day we continued with the recovery of the small amount of remaining fuel. Water testing undertaken by Refining NZ and Northland Regional Council indicates that there has been no contamination of surrounding waterways.
Our air quality monitoring indicates that there is no health hazard for the community.
Earlier News from Refining NZ – September 18
Refining NZ has confirmed that it is to start repairs on a section of its multi-product fuel pipeline which was shut down following a jet fuel leak last Thursday. Chief Executive Sjoerd Post said that a 30-strong team has been working on a twenty four hour basis over the last four days and that most of the jet fuel has now been recovered from the leak site.
“Much of the jet fuel had leaked into a culvert on the property. Quick action by our team, working alongside environmental staff from the Northland Regional Council, meant we were able to contain the leak and prevent it from moving into waterways.”
“Contaminated soil from around the damaged section of the pipeline is being removed, with heavily contaminated soil being transported to the refinery for remediation, while lightly contaminated soil will be transported to a secure landfill.”
Post confirmed that excavating around the leak had revealed the extent of the damage to the pipeline.
“Inspection has shown clear signs of the pipe being dented and the protective coating removed by heavy equipment. The pipe is located in boggy terrain and it is certain that the acidic nature of the soil will have contributed to the corrosion and subsequent tear in the pipe.
“What’s not clear is when this section of the pipe may have been damaged. While further analysis of the metal is to be carried out, we are concluding that this incident is a one-off”.
Post said that the refinery’s engineering team is preparing to insert a new section of pipe and is working to a tight time-frame to return the pipeline to service.
“All going to plan, we expect to deliver jet fuel into Wiri between midday Sunday the 24th and midday Tuesday the 26th. From that point we estimate it will take another 30 hours for the jet fuel to settle, for recertification to be obtained, and to transport to Auckland International airport. We are continuing to work closely with our oil company customers to ensure that the impact on fuel supplies from this outage is minimised as much as we possibly can.”
Post said that the refinery has been keeping residents in the area up to date about the leak, and has been offering support, including providing alternative accommodation. “The continued patience of our local community, as we carry out our recovery and repair operation, is very much appreciated.”
News from AirNZ – September 17
The temporary shut-down of Refining New Zealand’s pipeline  into Auckland is impacting all airlines operating into and out of Auckland Airport and limiting the volume of jet fuel able to be uplifted.
Air New Zealand is working through the implications for its operations over coming days and is putting a range of measures in place. These will include:
Cancelling some domestic and Tasman services to consolidate passenger loads;
Ensuring domestic jet services uplift maximum fuel limits when operating out of Wellington or Christchurch to reduce fuel requirements ex Auckland;
Requiring some long-haul services to and from Asia and North America to undertake refueling stops at selected Pacific or Australian airports.
Air New Zealand Chief Operations Integrity & Standards Officer Captain David Morgan says: “Unfortunately this is an industry wide issue caused by the physical failure of an essential fuel pipeline. We are doing all we can to minimise the impact on our operations and on our customers, however, we do ask for patience and understanding at this time. We thank our customers in advance for their cooperation.”
News from Auckland Airport – September 17
Refining New Zealand, which owns the Marsden Point fuel refinery, has advised Auckland Airport that it is working on repairing a section of its damaged fuel pipeline which connects the refinery in Marsden Point to Wiri Oil Services Limited in Auckland, which in turns supplies airlines with aviation fuel at the airport.
Oil companies are responsible for storing and supplying fuel for use by airlines at the airport, and as a result of the pipeline damage the oil companies are currently rationing the amount of fuel they are supplying to airlines.
This has resulted in approximately 27 domestic and international flights being cancelled so far this weekend.
Auckland Airport Chief Executive Mr Littlewood says the airport is working closely with airlines and other airport stakeholders, including the Board of Airlines Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), to monitor the impact of the temporary disruption on airlines and their operations with a particular focus on helping passengers manage through this period of disruption.
“We will have additional staff in the terminals supporting passengers and addressing any questions or concerns they may have. We strongly recommend that any passengers travelling over the coming days plan ahead and check with their airline for the latest information.”