Sunday 29th July, 2007


Fuel shortage grounds aircraft

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TWENTY-ODD aircraft in T&T are grounded because there’s no gas available to fuel them.

Aviation fuel ran short on Wednesday, and owners and operators were told that supply would resume today.

However, a further notice informed pilots and owners of piston-powered aircraft that supplies would not be available until August 19.

One owner and operator of an aircraft, who did not wish to be identified, said:

“This is the first time in aviation history that this has happened in T&T. We make the fuel here and sell it. We supply the rest of the Caribbean.”

It is understood that Jet-A 1 fuel, which powers aircraft with turbine engines, was available.

Industry sources said yesterday the shortage of aviation fuel for lighter aircraft was due to a manufacturing error by Petrotrin, which resulted in the specifications of the fuel not being up to standard.

Efforts to reach Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager Arnold Corneal were unsuccessful, but First Vice President of Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancil Roget confirmed that Petrotrin has been unable to provide fuel for lighter aircraft.

“The OWTU has been informed of this development, and we will initiate an investigation immediately, to determine what has caused this,” Roget said.

Meanwhile, one company badly affected by this lack of aviation fuel is Briko Air Services, based at Piarco and Campden Base in Couva.

Yesterday, the company’s operations were at a complete standstill. A manager, who requested anonymity, said all airline operations, including chartered flights, had to be grounded indefinitely, after Petrotrin failed to supply 100-130 octane aviation fuel to the company.

“Right now, all 12 airplanes are down. This is costing us to lose a lot of money because many flights have been cancelled.”

Briko provides flight training as well as chartered flights up the chain of Caribbean islands.

Corporate communications manager at the Ministry of National Security Reanne Harper-Walters said no National Security aircraft was affected by the fuel shortage.

She said officials at both the Coast Guard Division as well as the Special Anti-Crime Unit had indicated that they had a stockpile of fuel.

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