Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) has warned that further delays in the supply of jet fuel at Cape Town International Airport is likely to result in “disruptions to airline schedules and possibly cancelled flights.”
The umbrella group of airlines from the Southern African Development Community region said, “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.
“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.
“Local airlines also depend heavily on feed traffic to and from long-haul inter-continental carriers, many of which will be unable to tanker fuel over such great distances. Those airlines may have to resort to intermediate en-route refuelling stops, or fly to Johannesburg or Durban to fill up before starting their long north and east-bound return flights. In such instances we urge Government to waive the additional on-route air navigation and airport fees airlines will incur in order to comply with the fuel rations at Cape Town and continue to provide the inter-continental connectivity that local airlines and the entire region’s economy depends on.”
Meanwhile, the company that runs South Africa’s airports, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) said on Wednesday that rough seas are delaying the arrival of a shipment of aircraft fuel in a development likely to trigger flight cancellations at the airport.
According to ACSA, the vessel was supposed to have arrived in Cape Town on September 25, causing panic since the airport reportedly has enough jet fuel stocks to last up to this weekend. The ship is now expected to arrive at the end of the week.
“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.
This development has seen ACSA rationing the amount of fuel it allocates to airlines using the airport.