Compromise reached on Heathrow fuel rationing
The International Air Transport Association Thursday said it brokered a compromise to better equalize fuel distribution among airlines at Heathrow Airport, which has suffered a fuel shortage since an explosion at a fuel storage facility in mid-December knocked out 35 percent of normal supplies.
Foreign airlines have complained that the initial allocation scheme instituted by airport operator BAA favored British airlines, and the U.S. government last week asked British officials to change the system. The new plan will relieve the need for some visiting airlines to carry extra fuel supplies into Heathrow, a practice known as tankering, or make an extra stop on long-distance flights to pick up fuel for the outbound leg from Heathrow.
IATA said the new allocation system would begin Feb. 20, but that the fuel differential will remain in place for short-haul flights and be gradually phased out as supplies increase.
BAA has raised fuel capacity to 78 percent of the normal 20 million to 21 million liters used by airlines each day.
IATA said it is working with BAA and airlines on an arrangement to handle fuel supplies during the summer travel season that begins March 31.
'It is now time for the oil companies and U.K. government to move quickly to ensure significant short-term improvement in the fuel supply level. Moreover, going forward, they must work together closely to ensure a much more robust fuel supply for the UK's air transport links,' IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement.
IATA said it will work to develop a global standard for handling
future supply crises. Many airports ration fuel based on flight-distance.