MPs lament jet fuel cri­sis


Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett ac­cepts that a mis­take by a dig­ger driver which caused wide­spread dis­rup­tion to the na­tion’s avi­a­tion in­dus­try is ‘‘em­bar­rass­ing’’.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Ju­dith Collins es­ti­mates the in­ci­dent could cost Auck­land ’’mil­lions and mil­lions of dol­lars’’.

On Thurs­day, it was re­vealed that a dig­ger had once struck a key fuel pipe near Mars­den Point in North­land, which by Sun­day had caused a ma­jor leak that starved Auck­land Air­port of its main jet fuel sup­ply.

Ben­nett agreed with RNZ host Guyon Espiner on Mon­day when he sug­gested that the ‘‘em­bar­rass­ing’’ episode had cut New Zealand off from the rest of the world.

Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers have al­ready been stranded by the fuel short­age, and Air New Zealand be­lieves around 2,000 peo­ple a day will be af­fected for the next two weeks as the avi­a­tion net­work at­tempts to re­cover.

Ben­nett told RNZ that this is a rare oc­cur­rence and hasn’t hap­pened for 30 years.

She added that she doesn’t ex­pect it to hap­pen again.

Ben­nett said Air New Zealand has in­formed her that they ’’feel com­fort­able’’ of avoid­ing huge dis­rup­tion.

She added that there’s now a ‘‘10-day but mov­ing timeline’’ of when the pipe­line will be fixed.

Prime Min­is­ter Bill English said that a con­tin­gency for this type of in­ci­dent had been pre­vi­ously been looked into but wasn’t eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

‘‘There have been a cou­ple of stud­ies done that looked at dif­fer­ent al­ter­na­tives for back­ing up the cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture, and the de­ci­sions were made that the in­vest­ment that would be re­quired to dou­ble up would be too much to be passed onto con­sumers.

‘‘But I ex­pect that af­ter this that they’ll go back and have an­other look at it.

‘‘In the mean­time, the oil com­pa­nies, the air­lines, the agen­cies, are all work­ing to­gether, we’ve of­fered all the sup­port, any sup­port that they need, they haven’t ac­tu­ally made any re­quests yet.’’

Can­celled flights.

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