Fuel providers at Melbourne Airport are attempting to bring in extra supplies in a bid to maintain normal operations there after a delayed shipment of jet fuel raised the prospect of fuel rationing at Australia’s second busiest airport.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) says fuel may have to be rationed at Tullamarine after the National Operating Committee on Jet Fuel Supply Assurance (NOC) changed the fuel supply status in Melbourne to a “black traffic light”, indicating the need to ration fuel.
BARA, which represents 29 international airlines that fly into and out of Australia, says the status was changed from green to black on Wednesday night, giving airlines little notice to respond to the supply change.
“Affected airlines will do all they can to minimise disruptions to the travelling public. But the primary responsibility lies with the fuel suppliers themselves,” BARA executive director Barry Abrams said in a statement on Thursday.
BP, Caltex, ExxonMobil and Shell were joint-venture partners in the Joint User Hydrant Installation (JUHI), which owns and manages the fuel depot and hydrant infrastructure at Melbourne Airport.
ExxonMobil operates the facility.
Caltex, which is understood to supply about 11 per cent of the fuel at Melbourne Airport including to Qantas and Air New Zealand, said it was working “minimise any potential for operational impacts on flights to and from the city” ahead of the delayed shipment of fuel arriving on Friday.
“In the interim, additional supplies are being brought in by truck and via pipeline transfers to maintain normal airport operations,” Caltex said in a statement.
ExxonMobil said it was working with industry partners and aviation customers to manage the jet fuel supply at Melbourne Airport and minimise any potential disruption to flights.
“At this stage, we do not expect the supply of jet fuel to ExxonMobil customers in Melbourne to be impacted,” ExxonMobil spokesperson Jessica Bodon said in an emailed statement.
“ExxonMobil is also working to support other industry partners in minimising any disruption to their customers.”
BP Australia spokesperson Elyse Gatt said BP was operating normally at Melbourne Airport.
Shell Aviation Australia declined to offer any comment when contacted.
Abrams said this situation had been “foreseeable for some time”, adding that an unreliable supply of jet fuel was damaging to the industry.
He said supply chain constraints and a lack of effective competition among jet fuel suppliers had stymied industry performance and impeded growth.
“BARA and individual members have privately raised concerns over the reliability of jet fuel supplies to Melbourne Airport with industry stakeholders over the course of last year,” Abrams said.
“Our member airlines are particularly concerned that fuel rationing could potentially disrupt airline schedules and the travel plans of customers during the holiday period.”