Qantas uses 747 to deliver extra fuel to Auckland

A Qantas Boeing 747-400ER transferring fuel to a Qantas Boeing 737-800 at Auckland Airport. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)
A Qantas Boeing 747-400ER transferring fuel at Auckland Airport. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)

Qantas has ferried extra fuel from Sydney to Auckland on a Boeing 747-400 as part of efforts to minimise disruption due to fuel shortages at the airport.

Airlines have been battling restricted fuel supplies at Auckland Airport since Sunday, after a pipeline which connects a refinery to the Wiri Oil Services facility near the airport was damaged, resulting in supply being reduced to only 30 per cent of normal usage.

On Wednesday, Qantas Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEG, operating as QF6011, took off from Sydney just before 2000 and landed at Auckland about two hours and 20 minutes later.

Once on the ground, ground staff transferred some 65,000kg of fuel to Qantas and Jetstar aircraft due to operate the following day.

Qantas said the fuel was transferred either directly to aircraft using special hoses, or first to a fuel truck before delivery to other aircraft.

“The preference is for the aircraft to be parked side by side to ensure the fuel transfer is completed as quickly as possible,” a Qantas spokesperson said via email.

“By tankering in fuel from Australia, as well as other measures, Qantas and Jetstar have been able to minimise the impact of the Auckland fuel shortage on customers.”

A Qantas Boeing 747-400ER transferring fuel to a Qantas Boeing 737-800 at Auckland Airport. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)
Qantas transferring fuel from 747-400ER VH-OEG  directly to  737-800 ZK-ZQH. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)
A Jetstar Airbus A320 in position to receive fuel from a Qantas Boeing 747-400ER at Auckland Airport. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)
Jetstar Airbus A320 VH-VFT in position to receive fuel from VH-OEG. (Qantas/Ollie Dale)

In addition to the 747-400ER fuel flight, Qantas said one of its regularly scheduled Airbus A330-200 flights from Sydney to Auckland – the QF149 operated by VH-EBP – took on extra fuel on departure from Australia, providing an additional 10,000kg of fuel to the effort.

The spokesperson said the move to deliver extra fuel with a 747-400ER was a one-off, with no further extra services planned at this stage. VH-OEG was scheduled to return to Sydney on Thursday afternoon.

With Auckland as its biggest hub, Air New Zealand has been the most affected of all airlines serving the country’s largest international gateway.

The kiwi airline has cancelled scores of domestic and trans-Tasman flights and taken on more fuel on domestic jet services from Wellington or Christchurch to limit refuelling in Auckland.

Meanwhile, a number of its long-haul services have been operating with a refuelling stop at selected airports Australia or the Pacific. It estimates about 6,000 passengers have been affected by the debacle.

Air New Zealand said on Thursday its domestic network was operating “largely as normal” with no fuel related cancellations scheduled for Friday.

“Air New Zealand remains in close dialogue with key stakeholders including government, its agencies and fuel companies and believes the situation is stabilising and will continue to be manageable in the absence any further complications,” the airline said in a statement.

Comments

  1. Brad says

    I wonder if VA will look to do a similar thing with its A330s over the weekend. They could replace a couple of normal 737 services with a single fully fuelled A330 and, in theory, it would be able to provide about half its fuel load to top up VA or Air NZ narrowbodies in AKL.

  2. Steve says

    VA will never be able to put a330s in trans Tasman without union approval. At current times only NZ crew can operate NZ flights per their agreement with the unions – restricting the Australian crews from operating – hence nil a330 services

  3. KD says

    @steve Thats not correct, The domestic crew do operate some trans tasman services in times of disruption. There has been many times in which domestic crew have operated these services.

  4. Jake says

    Thats incorrect ,with operational needs if its an entire VA crew ie a330 with all aussie crew then they can operate without restriction, the only problem is to mix aussie and nz crew which in that case manager of cabin crew can give approval for that to occur.

  5. Jurgen Witte says

    Makes me wonder how they do the fuel transfer …
    You can´t just connect two aircraft with a hose. Even with a refuelling vehicle in between.
    As soon as fuel is inside an aircraft tank it is at “it´s intended destination”.

    Thus any fuel that will be taken out of an aircrafts fuel tank is considered “contaminated” (not guaranteed to be “clean”)

    So, how do they ensure it stays “clean”. Do these refuelling vehicles have proper filters etc. ?

  6. John J says

    Jurgen, because you are wrong. Aircraft to aircraft fuel transfers using transfer hoses are done all the time, I have done many of them. There is no issue with fuel contamination as you would do a water contamination check first, then use the aircrafts fuel pumps to provide pressure to pump it through the refuelling galleries and into the transfer hoses to the second aircraft. We frequently do this during aircraft re-weighs where you need empty tanks.

  7. dashing donny says

    The fuel stays clean because it is clean in the clean tank, comes out clean (not contaminated), gets pumped clean, thru clean filters and goes into a clean tank.

    The issue you are referring to is where defueled fuel goes into an irregular, non-aviation-approved storage vessel, then you want to put it back into a plane. However given the widespread reuse of such fuel and the zero-contamination of fuel being pumped back into a plane through aviation-grade filters, I really don’t see the problem.

    Airforces of the world have transferred fuel from plane-to-plane clean for decades, without letting contaminants in during the process….😅

  8. BG says

    David Foster, the B737 is operated by Jet Connect, a 100% Qantas owned subsidiary. The aircraft are under the NZ AOC, and have NZ crew. These people are employed by Jet Connect, who operate the service on behalf of Qantas.

  9. Tom says

    why don’t the NZ registered Jet Connect aircraft operate domestic OZ services ? NZ crews are much cheaper apparently & NZ registered aircraft fly under much simpler NZL CAA rules & virtually don’t have to deal with CASA.