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Air NZ restricts ticket sales as fuel shortage bites

Air NZ restricts ticket sales as Auckland fuel shortage bites

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 19 (BusinessDesk) - Air New Zealand is restricting ticket sales and will cancel some international flights as it deals with the shortage of jet fuel at Auckland International Airport.

The national carrier will cancel five Australian services, two Fiji services and a return service to Vietnam tomorrow, taking total cancellations to date to 26 domestic flights, 11 trans-Tasman and Pacific Island routes, and two international long-haul flights, it said in a statement. About 3,000 passengers will be affected by cancellations tomorrow, and Air NZ said it is restricting ticket sales, including stopping all sales of some international services.

The airline will reduce cargo loads by not accepting ad hoc shipments unless it's urgent medical equipment, and excluding any consignments heavier than pre-existing bookings.

Air NZ also began refuelling wide-body long-haul aircraft in Wellington today in addition to the refuelling stops long-haul flights have made in Australia and the Pacific.

The pipeline between the Marsden Point refinery and petrol company-owned Wiri storage depot failed last Thursday, disrupting fuel supply to the country’s biggest city and forcing airlines to ration flights in an effort to conserve fuel.

New Zealand Refining reaffirmed its expectation service to Wiri will resume between Sept. 24 and Sept. 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. The shares rose 2.1 percent to $2.44.

Air NZ yesterday told investors it didn't anticipate the fuel disruptions would have a material impact on its earnings. The company's shares fell 0.5 percent to $3.20.

The fuel disruption is most acutely felt by airlines, although 13 Z Energy petrol stations have run out of 95 octane and the company has previously said there was a deliberate focus on delivering 91 octane and diesel fuels. Z shares increased 0.7 percent to $7.40.

Energy Minister Judith Collins today said industry has told the government the impact on "petrol and diesel supply for motorists are minimal". The government called in the Defence Force to support the response, charging the HMNZS Endeavour naval tanker to shift diesel from the refinery to other parts of the country and 20 NZDF tanker drivers and two trucks are available to support fuel movements.

Collins also said Immigration New Zealand is advising international visitors whose visas may expire that they will be granted an electronic visa free of charge.

The transport fuels companies are also industry is investigating whether they can configure storage at Auckland’s Wynyard dock to store jet fuel, which could then receive shipments and truck it to the airport.


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