Flight operations at Manchester Airport have returned to normal after the airline’s fuel supply companies experienced an interruption to supply from the Essar refinery near Ellesmere Port on Merseyside yesterday. The airport uses around three million litres of aviation fuel per day. This is the equivalent of 79 road tankers which carry approximately 38,000 litres per vehicle.
The fuel supply comes from the refinery via a pipeline which is capable of pumping 250,000 litres an hour.
The initial interruption to the fuel supply was caused by production problems and occurred early yesterday morning. Aviation fuel stocks ran out at 17:15 last night. Despite initial concerns that a new supply would not be available until midnight, the refinery was able to begin pumping fuel again at 17:30 yesterday.
Overnight, 3 million litres of fuel was supplied to the fuel storage facility at Manchester Airport meaning operations were returned to normal at 08:30 this morning. Thanks to the co-operation between airlines, fuel companies and airport staff, only 13 flights were delayed in total – 12 for less than 30 minutes and one for two and a half hours.
The majority of airlines travelling to Manchester carried enough additional fuel to complete both legs of the journey. 17 departures from Manchester also made a short stop at other UK airports to top up fuel before completing the onward journey.
“Although we initially warned about the potential for some cancellations and diversions based on the information from the fuel companies yesterday afternoon, disruption to passengers has been kept to an absolute minimum thanks to the airlines and the Essar refinery,” said Chris Formby, Operations Director at Manchester Airport.
“On behalf of the thousands of passengers travelling today and last night, we would like to thank our airline partners for the huge effort they put into contingency planning to mitigate the highly unusual problem with the fuel supply.
“Although it was only a relatively small number of people affected, we are also grateful to those passengers who were delayed this morning for their patience and understanding.”
With its operations now returned to normal, Manchester Airport, its airlines and the fuel companies will be working together to review the incident, learn lessons and mitigate any risk of disruption that might be caused by a similar incident in the future.