Tonga flight repeatedly delayed as Auckland jet fuel crisis deepens

The Virgin Australia flight from Tonga to Auckland tonight Tuesday 19 has been repeatedly delayed this evening as thousands of people are expected to have their travel plans disrupted over the coming days.

The Flight VA60, Virgin had been rescheduled to arrive at 11.32pm after it was planned to arrive at 11.20pm. The latest updates on flight arrival and departure schedules on the Airport website this evening showed the Virgin flight arrival time was delayed again until 11.45pm.

Meanwhile, an Air New Zealand flight from Tonga NZ977 to Auckland tonight at 11.59pm and an Air New Zealand flight NZ270 from Auckland to Tonga tomorrow Wednesday 20 at 9.15am were going ahead as planned.

27 flights were cancelled yesterday after the oil pipeline from Marsden Point burst on Thursday after it had been previously damaged by a digger trying to extract kauri logs near Ruakaka.

A total of four trans-Tasman and 26 domestic flights have been cancelled between Sunday and Wednesday.

Up to 3000 customers are expected to be impacted by cancelled flights on Wednesday, and a further 6000 inconvenienced by unexpected schedule changes, an Air New Zealand spokesman told Fairfax Media.

“Air New Zealand has taken the extraordinary step of restricting ticket sales, including halting sales of some international services”, NZ Herald report said.

“The airline has been taking increasingly disruptive steps to hit the target of cutting its fuel uptake from Auckland Airport to 30 per cent of normal.”

New Zealand’s air traffic control provider said it was implementing fuel conservation measures to help alleviate the impact of the Auckland aviation fuel shortage.

It expects up to 10 days of disruption to passengers while Airways enforces stricter air traffic sequencing and normal fuel supplies are restored.

Using advanced aircraft sequencing technology, Airways is able to queue aircraft arrivals and departures at New Zealand’s major airports in the most efficient way to avoid air traffic congestion across the national network and reduce fuel burn.

“This is an important tool for us which, under normal operating conditions, is responsible for around 11,500 tonnes of fuel savings for airlines annually,” Airways acting General Manager of System Operations Tim Boyle says.

“Due to the current fuel shortage, we’re enhancing this capability to reduce consumption as much as possible.”

“Passengers may notice that they are held on the ground for longer than usual. This is because it is better to have aircraft holding on the ground with the engines off, rather than slowing down en-route and burning more fuel in the air.”

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