Air New Zealand operations disrupted by Auckland pipeline outage


Airlines have been forced to cancel or divert flights at Auckland International Airport due to a fuel shortage.

Thousands of travellers have had their plans disrupted after the 170km pipeline started leaking after being scraped by a digger - forcing rationing of jet fuel at Auckland Airport. At least 27 worldwide and domestic flights were cancelled over the weekend. The fuel shortage means that all airlines only have access to 30 percent of normal fuel usage, Air New Zealand said.

Aircraft will also be filling up in Wellington and Christchurch but some long-haul services to and from Asia and North America will have to stop and refuel at Pacific or Australian airports.

"Airlines operating at Auckland Airport have had their usual fuel allocations reduced", Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited spokesman Andrew McNaught said.

"Aviation is a critical transport industry and the lifeblood for tourism and we are naturally extremely disappointed with this infrastructure failure", Air New Zealand chief operations integrity and standards officer Captain David Morgan said in a statement on Monday. The pipeline is owned by New Zealand Refining, which is based in Marsden Point, on the east coast of New Zealand, around 87 miles from Auckland.

"However, closer inspection after excavating the pipeline has shown that the damaged section needs to be replaced".

A few flights with Jetstar, the Melbourne-based low-priced airline, have been rescheduled, while there have been minimal disruptions to flights with Virgin Australia and no cancellations reported as of yet for flights with Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

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The New Zealand government, which faces an election on Saturday, came under pressure to intervene amid concerns of a shortage of motor fuel.

Qantas and Jetstar said they were working to minimise impact on customers and urged people to check their flight status online.

"Logistically this is a significant challenge and it will require travellers to not only check their flights, but to have patience while NZ Refinery works to fix the pipeline and restore the flow of jet fuel to the Wiri terminal and Auckland Airport".

Auckland Airport's ASX-listed shares were up 1.91 per cent to $5.88 on the news.

The carrier said about 2,000 passengers are affected by cancellations on Monday.

Z Energy said that nationally, fuel supplies were healthy.