American Airlines has told pilots to carry extra fuel on some flights and warned that fuel stops might be necessary on a small number of routes due to jet fuel shortages at some smaller regional airports. The same concerns have also been raised by Southwest Airlines and the issues could affect other carriers.
In a memo sighted by Bloomberg and CNBC, American Airlines told pilots on Monday that jet fuel shortages could be expected through mid-August. The reason isn’t due to a lack of fuel but rather delays in hauling the fuel to smaller airports that rely on tanker deliveries.
Trucking delays have caused widespread supply issues across the United States from Starbucks to smaller gas stations in a number of states including Florida and Oregon. It’s unclear how long the truck driver shortage will take to resolve.
“American Airlines station jet fuel delivery delays initially affected mostly western U.S. cities, but are now being reported at American stations across the country,” Monday’s memo warned. “Station jet fuel delivery delays can occur in all regions of the U.S. and will affect all airlines.”
According to Bloomberg, the US actually has a glut of jet fuel at the moment – the highest seasonal levels in a decade. But getting it where it needs to be is the challenge.
American Airlines is hoping to get around the problem by carrying extra fuel on some flights to cover both the outbound and return flight, as well as a little extra to account for delays – a process known as tankering.
Tankering isn’t, however, without its own challenges. Pilots have been warned that the aircraft will be heavier than usual when landing and the extra weight will increase the airline’s costs and CO2 output.
So far, the shortage has had minimal impact on American’s operation and no flights have been cancelled.
Following the Colonial Pipeline outage in May, American Airlines was forced to add fuel stops on two long-haul flights as part of measures to conserve at one of its hub airports.
Delta Air Lines blamed some of the recent woes on a lack of pipeline capacity after space was given over to diesel and gasoline during the pandemic.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.