Airlines forced to ration fuel at Melbourne Airport: sources

A Qantas Airways worker stands on the tarmac as a Qantas Boeing 737-800 plane prepares to take off at Melbourne Airport June 5, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Airlines flying to and from Australia’s Melbourne Airport on Friday were told they could only receive half of their normal jet fuel after a series of supply disruptions, three aviation industry sources said.

The shortage meant some international flights would stop in other Australian cities to pick up fuel en route to their destinations, which is costly for airlines and can lead to missed connections by passengers, the sources told Reuters.

Melbourne Airport said in a statement that temporary fuel rationing measures had been put in place.

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil, the operator of the airport’s joint user fuel facility, said it was working with customers and industry partners to manage the fuel supply issue.

“The supply issue has arisen following disruptions in recent weeks to jet fuel deliveries from multiple fuel terminals across Melbourne, which are in the process of being resolved,” the spokesman said.

A Qantas spokesman said services from Melbourne to Hong Kong and Singapore on Friday that were normally non-stop would need to stop in Sydney to refuel, but domestic services would not be affected since they could carry extra fuel from the originating airport.

Board of Airline Representatives of Australia Executive Director Barry Abrams said that airlines were doing all they can to minimize the disruption to passengers, but the main responsibility lies with the jet fuel suppliers.

Representatives of international carriers Emirates, Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand could not be reached immediately for comment.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Edwina Gibbs