Jet Fuel Shortage Hits Burlington International Airport | Off Message

Jet Fuel Shortage Hits Burlington International Airport


Burlington International Airport - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
  • Burlington International Airport
Updated at 11:45 a.m. on July 12, 2021.

Several flights were delayed out of Burlington International Airport on Sunday because some airlines couldn't obtain fuel due to supply problems.

Airlines generally purchase fuel from Albany, N.Y., that is stored in a tank farm at BTV owned by Heritage Aviation. The company then delivers the fuel to planes on the tarmac, according to Heritage CEO Matt Collins. The Albany facility is supplied via Hudson River barges; Collins was told a barge was late. "Obviously we can't deliver what we don't have," Collins said.

Fuel ran low on Saturday, he said.

"We've tried to cover the airlines the best we could with our own retail fuel," he added. "We're at a position now where ... I don't really have much of anything to sell. I can't even front the airlines any more fuel." Collins said he had a small reserve that could cover any emergency medical flights.

Airlines own their own fuel, and were affected in different ways, he said. Both Jet Blue and Frontier had fuel on hand; later Sunday, a load arrived for United, he said.

It was unclear how many flights were grounded or delayed on Sunday; BTV's online flight status report showed several departures were delayed throughout the day.

Others didn't get off the ground at all. Kirsten Hawkins and Max Tarlov boarded an American Airlines flight that was supposed to take off at 9:16 a.m. for Chicago. After a wait in the plane, passengers were told it lacked fuel. They eventually deplaned and rescheduled their trips with airline representatives. The two expected to fly out on Monday afternoon.

In an emailed statement Sunday evening, an American spokesperson said the airline was "working to limit impact to our customers."

Collins, who said he'd never encountered a situation like this in nearly 13 years with Heritage, said he'd been told that the Albany fuel facility was "back up and running." Four to six loads have been ordered for delivery via truck to BTV on Monday.

"I'll believe it when they're actually in the farm," he said.

On Monday morning, the airport's interim aviation director, Nic Longo, said that tankers arrived earlier in the day and offloaded shipments of jet fuel. According to Longo, no flights the day before were officially cancelled, though airlines did have to resort to tactics that caused delays, such as a flight headed to D.C. that had to stop first in Manchester, N.H., to fuel up.

Flights on Monday resumed on normal schedules, Longo said.