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More international flights cancelled

22 September 2017 9:43 PM
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International travelers booked on four flights out of Auckland are the latest victims of the fuel crisis.

A spokeswoman for Auckland Airport told the New Zealand Herald that four international flights had been cancelled on Saturday due to a shortage of fuel caused by a rupture on the pipeline used to transport fuel from Northland to Auckland.

Information about the number of passengers booked on the flights or which airlines were affected by the cancellations has not been released.

No domestic flights had been cancelled or delayed by the issue, the Auckland Airport spokeswoman said.

The pipeline burst on September 14, but an initial investigation by the Marsden Point oil refinery found a digger driver searching for swamp kauri caused the critical damage to the pipeline months ago.

Energy Minister Judith Collins yesterday told the Herald she was confident there will be no disruptions to school holiday travel as jet fuel allocations at Auckland International Airport were increased on Saturday.

Carriers' fuel allocations have been raised to 50% normal from 30% rationing and just seven flights are expected to be cancelled today as the country's main air hub starts returning to business as usual, Ms Collins said in a statement.

Restrictions were imposed earlier this week after damage to the pipeline between the Marsden Point refinery and the Auckland depot disrupted fuel supply, prompting a joint industry and government response.

"The easing of rationing shows the industry's confidence in the progress of the repair, as Refining NZ reports the welding of the new section of pipeline has been completed and has passed its first testing,'' Ms Collins said.

Refining NZ again reaffirmed its expectation service to the Wiri depot will resume between September 24 and September 26, after which it will take another 30 hours before fuel can be transported to the airport.

The company anticipates missing out on between $10 million and $15 million of pipeline and refining income as a result.

Petrol companies have banded together in response to the disruption and have been working on ways to convert storage space at Wynyard Wharf, which could then receive shipments and truck jet fuel to the airport.

Ms Collins said the companies expect to store diesel and jet fuel at the wharf over the weekend, which would then be available to transport next week.

Retail petrol supplies in Auckland were "secure'', although Collins said some stations had run out of 95 octane petrol given deliveries of 91 octane and diesel had priority.

Air New Zealand yesterday said its schedule would return to normal on Saturday with the situation stabilising.


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