With a revenue loss of R1.5 million because of the cancellation of international airline flights due to the jet fuel shortage, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) will be implementing several emergency measures to secure a sustainable supply of the fuel at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Executives from Transnet Freight Rail, the Central Energy Fund, the South African Petroleum Industry Association, the Board of Airline Representatives and the department of mineral resources and energy met on Monday to discuss plans to mitigate jet fuel shortages.
Acsa chief executive Mpumi Mpofu announced that several interventions had been put in place to stop the cancellation of flights and eliminate detour fuel stops which were costly, and to ensure more than adequate fuel availability to all airlines.
“Acsa has for some time now issued assurances to airlines that the supply of jet fuel at OR Tambo is stable and sufficient to meet the demand, despite disruptions to the transportation of jet fuel as a result of the KwaZulu-Natal floods, exacerbated by the railway infrastructure damage,” she said.
Mpofu said while overall stock levels were stable, certain suppliers declared force majeure as they were still unable to acquire the quantities of jet fuel they require.
“It is regrettable that some airlines took a decision to cancel flights, and to make technical or tankering stops in Durban and even Windhoek.”
Mpofu said while there was a jet fuel supply and demand “mismatch” at OR Tambo, the jet fuel supply to the airport was stable, with about three and a half days’ worth of fuel currently available at the airport. She added that a “comfortable” stock position would be about five days’ supply.
“OR Tambo International Airport was able to continue jet fuel supply to 40 other international airlines during the time of disruption,” she said.
“The issue at play is the mismatch between supply and demand. This is what the forum has agreed to remedy through setting up an operations room that will meet weekly until the railway line between KZN and OR Tambo International Airport is fixed.”
She said a shipment of 20 million litres of fuel had arrived in Durban and would be pumped to the refinery of the National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa. It would then be piped direct to OR Tambo Airport.
She said one international airline cancelled 14 flights, which affected 3 150 passengers. Another international airline cancelled a single flight, affecting less than 100 passengers.
Mpofu said Transnet Freight Rail had informed them that rail infrastructure between Durban and Johannesburg would return to 50% of its capacity by 9 June, but the remaining line would only be back in service by the end of October.