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Flood damage affects international flights

An Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft docked at an 'airbridge' at Durban's King Shaka International Airport.

An Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft docked at an 'airbridge' at Durban's King Shaka International Airport.

Published May 2, 2022


Durban - A Lufthansa flight to Germany from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg was rerouted to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport to fill up on Friday, shortly after authorities had assured airlines the jet-fuel supply was stable.

The jet-fuel shortage was a consequence of the floods in KwaZulu-Natal that affected transport infrastructure and disrupted the supply chain of fuel.

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Airports Company South Africa said about 140 sections of Transnet Freight Rail lines had been damaged on the route to Johannesburg.

Of the 67 rail tanks en route to OR Tambo, only 11 arrived, with 56 remaining behind. It was estimated Transnet Freight Rail would only be able to repair the damaged rail infrastructure by June, said Acsa’s Terence Delomoney.

Acsa added it had developed an interim plan to have sufficient jet fuel at OR Tambo.

However, on Friday night DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote on his Facebook page that a 6.45pm Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt from Johannesburg was sitting on the tarmac in Durban three hours late because there was no fuel at OR Tambo.

The inaugural flight of new Durban airline Velvet Sky is given a traditional welcome shower on arrival at King Shaka International Airport. Picture: Justin Fuchs

“It is further delayed by the fact that the tankers to refuel the planes in Durban have now not arrived. Last night (Thursday) they were forced to cancel their flights. How on earth do we expect to attract tourists, businesses and investors to our country when we cannot even get the planes off the ground?” he asked.

In reaction to Steenhuisen's post, several people shared their frustrations caused by flight delays as a result of jet-fuel shortages at OR Tambo.

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Viv Lovell-Harris said her son’s United Airlines flight from New York to Johannesburg has been cancelled five times this week. Her son was supposed to have been best man at his friend's wedding in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, but he could not make it due to the fuel shortages.

Yesterday, Raphael Sher was informed his flight from Johannesburg to Singapore would be required to make a technical stop in Colombia for refuelling owing to the fuel-supply issues at OR Tambo.

The flight glitches took place in the midst of Durban preparing to host thousands of delegates for the Africa Tourism Indaba, set to start on Tuesday.

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Responding to the glitches, Delomoney said technical stops for refuelling took about three hours for a journey, and were unfortunately necessary to alleviate the current situation.

“The flight departed on time, as scheduled. No major travel delays were experienced. At present, King Shaka International Airport has got sufficient aviation fuel to fulfil its demand," he said.

He maintained the supply of jet fuel to airlines flying through OR Tambo was stable.

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