Fuel shortage at Kenyan airports diverts carriers

Today, Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA) are experiencing fuel shortages, forcing carriers to divert their flights to other airports in Kenya and neighboring countries.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) issued a notice advising non-scheduled carriers to reroute flights to other regional airports, according to Business Daily Africa. Scheduled operators will receive allocations from the current available volume, but there will be no refueling for non-scheduled operators during this period. Scheduled operators, however, have also felt the impact and have been refueling at nearby airports.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe said a fresh delivery of fuel that arrived today at MBA will be shared with NBO until both airports can be restocked to a normal supply. However, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), the state agency responsible for transportation and storage of jet fuel, said the transportation of the fuel from MBA will take days to get to NBO and that the earliest time the fuel can be transferred to NBO via an oil line is the afternoon of March 10, due to the logistics of having to displace a diesel fuel currently being transferred through the same pump.

The news exacerbates an already challenging week for Kenya’s aviation industry, which has been wrought with tension that imploded into union strikes at NBO on Wednesday. Some flights in need of refueling have been rerouted to surrounding regional airports, which has resulted in a delay of several hours for some flights en route to their final destinations.

The price of jet fuel is also more expensive at other airports – fuel in Entebbe is US 12 cents higher than in Nairobi; in Mogadishu fuel is 38 cents higher; in Kilimanjaro it is 14 cents costlier; and in Juba it is 30 cents more.

Oil marketing companies, which sell the fuel directly to carriers, are being blamed for the inadequate stock amounts, according to Daily Nation Kenya. In January, oil marketers placed an order for 37,000 tonnes despite a request for 60,000 tonnes. On Feb. 28, government officials met and discussed potentially implementing a 30 percent ration for all carriers fueling at NBO and MBA during the shortage period. The suppressed demand target was not implemented, resulting in the current fuel shortage.

For the duration of the fuel shortage period, domestic carriers received the lion’s share, with Kenya Airways being allotted 1 million liters and Astral Aviation 260,000 liters.

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph said the carrier has not yet experienced issues due to the shortage and believes it will be fine until supplies are restocked on Sunday, according to Business Daily.

Astral Aviation commercial manager Mustwafa Murad said the carrier, which operates flights in the region and Europe, is considering rerouting its aircraft for additional fueling at Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), according to The East African news outlet.

Kenya also experienced a similar incident in 2014, whereupon the government requested assistance from Tanzania for an emergency delivery of fuel. The current incident does not help to attract carriers to the country’s airports  – a growing concern, given that African airports are entering a fierce competition for the region’s growing demand for cargo capacity.

Those interested in learning more about regional airport development are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com