As many as 23 flights at Auckland Airport are cancelled on Sunday because of a jet fuel shortage following a leak in a pipeline near the oil refinery at Marsden Point in Northland.
A breakdown in the supply of jet fuel to Auckland Airport will increase the demand for refuelling aircraft at Wellington Airport.
The Marsden Pt oil refinery reported a drop in pressure in the multi-product pipeline on Thursday afternoon.
Refining NZ spokesperson Greg McNeill has told 1 NEWS they were able to stop the pipeline and discovered a leak 8 kilometres south of the refinery.
It said it had lost the equivalent of two tanker loads of fuel from the leak.
“I’ve instructed ministers to work closely with the companies to offer all assistance that government can”.
While he wouldn’t speculate on the impact it may cause, the Minister of Energy and Resources, Judith Collins, said the problem is now affecting jet fuel.
Ms Collins said additional stocks of petrol and diesel were being trucked in directly from the refinery. The fuel companies are confident that supply of these fuels will be maintained and it is unlikely that motorists will be inconvenienced.
Qantas and Jetstar said in an emailed statement that they were working to minimise impact on customers and urged people to check their flight status online.Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s largest global airport with passenger numbers of around 18 million a year.
Mr McNaught said Auckland Airport had been hit the hardest because it was exclusively supplied by the Marsden Point pipeline.
“Industry is working to ensure there are robust fuel supplies at other airports around New Zealand to enable usual activity”.
The government has been forced to step in and provide assistance, and Prime Minister Bill English says he’s being kept informed of the problem.
Mr English said he did not have details about what impact the shortage could have.
He did not give further details about what form any government help for the airlines would take.
Air New Zealand is working through the implications for its operations over coming days and is putting a range of measures in place.
It said it would let customers know directly about flight changes and wanted passengers to check the website for flight details.