Air Namibia Averts Fuel Crisis

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Air Namibia has been able to avert a fuel crisis due to precautionary measures taken by its main aviation fuel suppliers BP and Engen. A jet oil crisis is impacting on the local, regional and international routes serviced by Air Namibia’s competitors. Despite temporary fuel supply disruptions in the country as a result of the upgrading of oil refineries in South Africa, the local air carrier managed to honour its flight schedules because it has enough aviation fuel in reserve. Confirming this in an interview the company’s General Manager for Commercial Services Helois //Hoabeb said “the situation is pretty safe”, adding there is “sufficient jet fuel in our reserves”. Generally, in spite of minor changes on some of the flights from Windhoek to Cape Town that were diverted via Upington for refuelling, Air Namibia’s international flights have not been affected by fuel supply disruptions. Lately, due to the current fuel supply disruptions as a result of South Africa temporarily closing down its refineries at Sasol and Caltex Oil, airports in neighbouring South Africa have been running low on fuel because of the unexpected demand. Reports have it that flight schedules at Cape Town International Airport had to be re-routed as a result of fuel shortages. Even though the situation is said to be normalising now, some of the Cape to London flights had to be re-routed via Johannesburg over the weekend to pick up more fuel. Tanks ran dry on Saturday, causing major inconvenience to airlines and passengers alike. Some airlines even left behind some passengers or luggage to reduce weight. The airlines also incurred massive financial losses. //Hoabeb said the local situation was not as bad as in South Africa. The only minor glitch experienced by Air Namibia was when it had to re-route its first flight from Windhoek to Cape Town on Saturday morning via Upington to refuel. “We also had to leave some passengers’ bags behind at Hosea Kutako Airport from where we paid them out for first need items,” said //Hoabeb, adding that the situation which was normalised by Sunday afternoon was a temporary inconvenience for passengers. Having a longstanding agreement with its South African counterpart, Air Namibia has been able to refuel at smaller towns like Upington during the crisis. However, //Hoabeb was adamant that there is enough jet fuel in reserve to fly directly from Windhoek to Cape Town, while all international flights have not been affected by the fuel crisis. He could however not shed more light on the actual amounts of jet fuel available in the airline’s reserves for security reasons. The aviation industry in the country is heavily dependent on the petroleum supplies it receives from the oil companies and in the case of Air Namibia, BP Namibia and Engen have already made provisions of such supplies for the national airliner. In light of this, //Hoabeb commended oil operators for their business-oriented plans, thus averting a fuel shortage for Air Namibia.