We recently warned that Europe is about to be hit with an unprecedented shortage of diesel, as gas stations run dry of the vital liquid (according to the CEOs of the world’s largest independent energy merchants), but little did we know that the first actual crisis would hit in America’s own back yard and not just anywhere but the state synonymous with commodity extraction: on Monday, airport officials in Austin, Texas warned of an impending jet-fuel shortage amid a surge in travel to and from the state’s capital city.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which is ranked No. 29 in the U.S. based on 2021 passenger traffic, issued a fuel-shortage alert on Monday and urged airlines to carry extra fuel or send in more supplies via tankers, said Sam Haynes, a spokesperson.
With 282 flights scheduled for today & 1,600 + more passengers flying out before 8 a.m. than we typically see, it’s a busy day at AUS.
While operations have returned to normal, we continue to ask passengers to arrive a minimum of 2 hours in advance now through early April. pic.twitter.com/5olg6JTaR0
— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@AUStinAirport) March 28, 2022
“The on-hand supply just isn’t enough to keep up with demand,” she said. “This is all a result of the tremendous growth we’ve seen” in the Austin area.
Haynes also said that the airport’s two fuel-storage tanks haven’t been expanded or augmented since it opened in 1999, and as a result, the Austin facility typically holds just one to two days of supply, less than half the five-to-seven days of fuel stockpiled by most airports of similar size, she said.
“We’re aware of fuel quantity issues at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and we are working to mitigate potential operational issues by tankering fuel on some inbound flights,” said Dan Landson, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines Inc., the airport’s largest carrier by passenger load.
The silver lining is that so far, no flights have been canceled or diverted as a result of the fuel situation. Meanwhile, the demand for jet fuel is soaring with the airport seeing more than 8,000 passengers before 8 a.m. on both Sunday and Monday, which is about 25% above normal, as citizens of bicoastal liberal utopias just can’t wait to get the hell out.
The crush of passengers was so dramatic that security lines stretched outside and onto sidewalks, and long waits meant many missed their flights, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported.
For now, the imminent fuel shortage hasn’t translated into actual groundings: according to Bloonberg, American Airlines’ flight schedule has not been affected by the shortage, a spokesperson said. The supply squeeze wasn’t expected to impact Air France-KLM’s inaugural non-stop flight to Amsterdam scheduled for Monday afternoon, Haynes said.
We expect that to change; we also expect that very soon many other airports around the country will suffer similar shortages as the US is hit with the worst supply chain crisis in modern history.