Cape Town International Airport (CPT) has reportedly been hit by jet fuel rationing, which is likely to cause major disruptions to airlines. The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) has called on the government to take action at a time when the airline industry is already facing several challenges.
Cape Town International to impose jet fuel rationing
The Airlines Association of Southern Africa – AASA – has shared its concern regarding the imposition of jet fuel rations at Cape Town International Airport (CPT). In the statement, the Association underlined how these restrictions would have a knock-on effect on airlines’ schedules, with relevant delays and flight cancellations to be expected in the coming weeks.
Cape Town Airport has imposed jet fuel rations which will most likely cause significant disruptions, including flight delays and cancellations. Photo: Getty Images.
The AASA acknowledged the efforts made by the authority administering Cape Town International Airport, the Airports Company South Africa, in managing jet fuel stocks at the airport; however, the latest announcement regarding the imposition of further fuel rations has been identified by the Association as a clear sign of the vulnerability of South Africa, which mainly relies on imported jet fuel, whose cost and availability are therefore often put at risk.
How are airlines facing the threat?
One way airlines have to avoid jet fuel rations at an airport is to tanker fuel, which means aircraft are flown in with enough fuel to not only fly to the airport, but also back again. The AASA noted that some local and regional carriers are indeed adopting this strategy at the moment, and that it has some obvious downsides.
Carrying more fuel means the weight of the aircraft increases. Consequently, the plane burns more fuel than usual, negatively impacting fuel costs and CO2 emissions. Although tanker fuel allows short/medium-haul airlines to keep their schedules unaltered, it also increases their operating costs and damage to the environment.
Tanker fuel will negatively impact airlines’ operating costs, as well as increase the amount of CO2 emissions. Photo: Getty Images
Although increased fuel expenditure is always bad news for an airline, this is particularly true right now, when jet fuel prices globally have been hit following the Ukrainian war. According to the IATA Fuel Monitor, jet fuel prices in the Middle East and Africa are 38.1% higher than in September 2021. Besides rising fuel costs, the AASA cited increased finance charges and interest rates as further obstacles the airline industry is already facing and which further complicate the scenario for South African airlines.
Regional carriers are going to address the jet fuel rations by adopting the tanker fuel strategy, i.e., carrying more fuel than the optimally required amount. Photo: Getty Images.
Additionally, the Association highlighted the importance for local and regional carriers of feeding traffic to/from long-haul airlines; however, differently from short-haul aircraft, widebodies rarely adopt the tanker fuel strategy because of the already long distances they fly. Consequently, disruptions in long-haul operations will negatively impact the traffic volumes of regional South African carriers. Long-haul airlines operating to/from Cape Town will likely have to opt for en-route refueling stops or fly to Johannesburg or Durban before starting their long-haul services.
Given the dramatic scenario which is likely to affect airlines’ operation at Cape Town International Airport, the Airlines Association of Southern Africa has appealed to the South African government to waive the additional on-route navigation and airport fees airlines would incur if they need to fly to nearby airports to refuel, thus continuing to provide the essential air services to and from South Africa.
How do you think the jet fuel rations situation at Cape Town International Airport is going to develop? Let us know in the comment section below!