International flights out of Melbourne are being diverted or delayed as airlines are forced to ration fuel due to major shortages at Melbourne Airport.
The fuel shortage sparked concerns of diversions and flight delays following the delivery of a substandard shipment of imported aviation fuel from Asia.
Fuel Shortage at Melbourne Airport
Victoria has just two fuel refineries (where a decade ago, Australia had seven) with demand for fuel met with imports from refineries in Asia.
On Thursday night, international airlines were told of the shortages in Melbourne, with a “black traffic light” situation on fuel supply forcing “immediate and deep rationing”.
Ace Airport Parking has come to learn that less than 2 million litres of aviation fuel was available at the Melbourne Airport, the country’s second busiest airport. Considering an A380 can require more than 300,000 litres of fuel for a long-haul flight, the shortage reached a critical point.
Several flights have departed behind schedule yesterday and airlines on domestic routes are carrying larger loads of fuel so they can avoid filling up.
A spokesman for fuel suppliers to the airport was unable to specify when supply levels may return to normal.
“The fuel terminals continue to investigate the cause of the disruption to their jet fuel deliveries, with a focus on safely returning the JUHI (Joint User Hydrant Installation) to normal operations as quickly as possible,” he said.
Melbourne Airport is a world-class without sufficient fuel storage
Sydney Airport’s fuel storage capacity is more than double that of Melbourne Airport.
“Melbourne Airport is a world-class international airport but for far too long, Melbourne Airport has not had sufficient jet fuel storage to be able to meet the growing needs of the flights that are coming in and out of Melbourne,” said Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.
The operator of the fuel tanks at Melbourne Airport, ExxonMobil, said it was working with airlines to manage the rations, noting “The supply issue has arisen following disruptions in recent weeks to jet fuel deliveries from multiple fuel terminals across Melbourne, which are in the process of being resolved.”
Whilst Melbourne Airport dismissed the concerns as “upstream supply issues” and that it was working with airlines to minimise the impact on travellers, as it urged people to contact airlines about how their flights would be affected.
Flight Delays at Melbourne Airport
So far two Qantas flights have been diverted through Sydney to refuel after airlines were rationed to half of the amount of fuel they would normally use. International airlines including Qantas, Virgin and most domestic flights are now arriving in Melbourne with extra fuel on board to minimise the impact of the fuel shortage.
Ace Airport Parking recommends checking with your airline and monitor the situation for delays over the coming days.