Heathrow Airport is reportedly asking airlines to carry extra fuel on flights to London in order to avoid the need to fill up their tanks at the West London airfield due to ongoing but unspecified jet fuel supply issues.
According to the Guardian newspaper, airlines have been asked by airport bosses to load additional fuel on flights to Heathrow from July 23 through to July 31, although the airport insists it has enough jet fuel to avoid disruption over the busy summer holidays.
The tactic of carrying more fuel for a flight than is necessary is known as ‘tankering’, and while it’s a fairly regular practice, it’s not without controversy due to the additional greenhouse gas emissions it creates.
In an attempt to hit ‘net zero’ ambitions, some airlines are trying to phase out tankering, although it sometimes comes with benefits which makes it a difficult habit for the aviation industry to quit.
As the Guardian reports, despite the additional fuel burn and associated cost that comes with tankering, just like with cars, it can sometimes be cheaper to fill up the tank in one airport rather than pay more in another country.
Although typically used on short-haul flights, tankering can also be used to a certain extent on long-haul flights. Earlier this year, British Airways was forced to tanker flights from London to San Diego due to fuel shortage that led to some cancellations and delays.
In the last year, jet fuel supply issues have hit several U.S. airports, along with Cape Town International Airport.
Heathrow, however, insists that it has enough fuel to keep the airport moving. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The airport has sufficient fuel supplies, and passengers can be reassured that their flights will continue to operate as normal.”
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.