Fuel pipe leak disrupts flights at Auckland airport

All supplies of jet fuel to Auckland Airport, the largest and busiest worldwide hub in New Zealand, have been cut following damage to a pipeline from the airport's sole supplier of fuel.

Around 2,000 Air New Zealand passengers will be affected by flight cancellations on Monday, the airline predicted.

Air New Zealand's flights to North America, which are popular with Australian travellers, are stopping in Fiji en route to refuel.

"Logistically this is a significant challenge and it will require travellers to not only check their flights, but to have patience while NZ Refinery works to fix the pipeline and restore the flow of jet fuel to the Wiri terminal and Auckland Airport".

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Z Energy today said its airline customers are already on fuel allocations, which will mean they have to bunker fuel and refuel at other domestic and worldwide locations.

Auckland Airport is New Zealand's largest worldwide airport with passenger numbers of around 18 million a year.

Due to a fuel shortage in Auckland, oil companies are limiting the amount of fuel being supplied to airlines at Auckland Airport.

Normally direct flights from the United States and Asia will stop at airports in Australia and the Pacific to refuel.

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"Early identification and containment has minimised the environmental impact of the leak", the company said in a statement. That's expected to reduce pipeline income and constrain refining income, which NZ Refining says will hit revenue by $10 million to $15 million. The contaminated soil has been removed, the refinery said.

New Zealand-based Z Energy (ZEL.NZ) said it was informed of the leak in the 170-kilometer-long pipeline on Thursday afternoon.

The New Zealand government, which faces an election on Saturday, came under pressure to intervene amid concerns of a shortage of motor fuel.

It said airlines would have to find different fuelling methods, including planes carrying more fuel to enable return flights and refuelling at other airports.

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It has raised questions about fuel supply security for the country's biggest city and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett admitted it was embarrassing.


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