SA Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula Says Jet Fuel Shortage Resolved

Fikile Mbalula
FIXING THE PROBLEM: Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

South Africa’s Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday reassured local and international airlines that jet fuel supplies to O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg had been stabilised.

On Tuesday, ACSA Chief Executive Officer Mpumi Mpofu said that the supply of jet fuel to airlines flying in and out of O.R Tambo International Airport was stable and continues to meet demand.

Mpofu revealed that of the 67 rail tanks en-route to OR Tambo International Airlines, only 11 have arrived, with 56 remaining behind, owing to the flood damage to parts of the rail freight route.

He rejected media reports of a shortage of jet fuel and said a plan had been put in place to transport the tanks to Sasolburg from where the jet fuel would be piped to O.R Tambo International Airport.

However, on Wednesday Mbalula acknowledged there had been a jet fuel shortage, saying this challenge was a consequence of the floods in KwaZulu-Natal that affected transport infrastructure and disrupted supply chains.

“Following my engagements with the minister of mineral resources and energy, the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the Departments of Transport and Mineral Resources & Energy, were mandated to put measures in place to address the jet fuel shortage experienced at O.R Tambo International Airport,” said Mbalula.

“We are pleased that ACSA has worked tirelessly to resolve this challenge, working with relevant stakeholders and other organs of state.

“The jet fuel supply to OR Tambo International has now been stabilised.

“We also welcome the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by ACSA, advising all airlines, both international and domestic, on measures being implemented to obviate disruptions to air services.”

South Africa’s economy was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and the recovery process has been made that much harder by the July unrest and recent devastating floods in eThekwini.

The transport minister said the aviation sector was a critical enabler of economic activity, which requires “our support” to ensure  it makes its contribution.

“We therefore wish to reassure the aviation sector that there is adequate fuel at O.R Tambo International Airport and at all our national airports,” said the transport minister.

“ACSA is doing everything within its power working closely with oil suppliers to ensure there is adequate fuel stock at all times.

“We further encourage the airlines to communicate with ACSA, in order to clear any uncertainty on this matter, rather than resorting to drastic measures such as cancelling flights.”

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