Cape Town – American airline, United Airlines, reportedly cancelled its Monday flight from Newark to Cape Town, because the airline would not be able to get fuel at Cape Town International Airport.
A return flight on Tuesday was also cancelled.
According to News24, passengers who booked for the flight, were told on Saturday that it had been cancelled.
“Your flight was cancelled because we were unable to fuel your plane,” a message from the airline said.
Speaking to SAfm, spokesperson for AASA, Linden Birns said that the ship carrying the fuel was running into rough sea and it would probably be late.
“It’s supposed to arrive in Cape Town harbour this weekend,” he said.
He added that one airline was told that it was limited to 50% of its normal fuel ration at Cape Town while another airline was limited to 60%.
“This is happening at a time when really our tourism, economy, and the economy at large can ill afford it, and certainly the airlines can’t,” Birns said.
“What they’re asking local airlines to do is carry additional fuel in their aircraft when they fly to Cape Town so that they’ve got some left in the tank for when they need to fly back to where they came from,” he added.
Airspace Africa reported that the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) had cautioned further delays in the supply of jet fuel at Cape Town International Airport were likely to result in “disruptions to airline schedules and possibly cancelled flights”.
The airline association called on government and fuel suppliers to put in place a resilience plan to ensure sufficient stocks of aviation fuel.
“We appreciate the efforts being made by the Airports Company South Africa to manage fuel stocks at the Cape Town International airport. However, the escalation of jet fuel rations throws into sharp focus South Africa’s vulnerability because of its reliance on imported jet fuel. We call on Government and fuel suppliers to move with urgency and put in place a far more robust resilience plan to ensure sufficient stocks of aviation fuel are always available for our airlines,” it said.
“Although our local and regional short-haul airlines are able to tanker fuel (i.e. carry more than optimally required for a single flight) to maintain their schedules, in doing so they must incur additional costs as the extra fuel load increases the overall weight of each plane, in turn burning more fuel just to carry the extra contingency supply. This puts further cost pressures on airlines at a time when they are already struggling with a more than 100 percent rise in the price of jet fuel, higher finance charges and interest rates as well as increased labour and other costs,” it added.
“ACSA continues to engage fuel suppliers and airlines to prevent the risk of a fuel supply and to prevent and minimize flight disruptions,” the company said.
Compiled by Junaid Benjamin