Orlando International Airport (MCO) could run out of jet fuel on Sunday after severe weather prevented a crucial delivery of fuel to the Central Florida airport. At least one airline has warned that it may be forced to add ‘technical’ refuelling stops in Miami or even Atlanta due to the fuel shortage.
The airport operator is yet to publicly comment on the issue, but the situation came to light after eagle-eyed Twitter user JonNYC spotted a ‘Notice to Air Missions‘ (NOTAM) for Orlando Airport warning pilots about the fuel shortage.
The NOTAM warns aircrew that Orlando Airport is suffering from limited fuel availability and suggests that flights ‘tanker’ in to the airport – a process whereby planes fly to Orlando with enough fuel for both the outbound and return flight.
Tankering can be more expensive and less environmentally friendly because planes have to carry a lot more additional weight. It’s also not possible for all planes, especially long-haul flights, to tanker because there’s simply not enough space in the fuel tanks.
According to the NOTAM, issues first started on Friday, and the situation might not be resolved until the middle of next week.
One major airline at Orlando Airport has warned that fuel could completely run out of jet fuel from 7 pm on Sunday after a ship carrying a crucial delivery of jet fuel was delayed due to severe weather.
The airline has identified 52 of its MCO flights will be impacted by the refuelling crisis, and 32 of those will need to make an additional stop to refuel in Miami, Atlanta or Jacksonville.
The remaining flights should be able to tanker in to Orlando, although this will still depend on weather and other factors.
Last summer, several U.S. airlines warned of delays and cancellations at some smaller domestic airports due to jet fuel shortages that resulted from trucking and supply chain issues.
At that time, airlines including American and Southwest, also suggested pilots tanker in, and in the end, there were minimal delays.
Earlier this year, Cape Town International Airport in South Africa came perilously close to running out of jet fuel after a shipment of fuel was delayed due to severe weather off the coast. On that occasion, several airlines including United Airlines were forced to cancel services to the airport because tankering was not possible.
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.