As many as three dozen domestic and international flights at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport have been canceled Tuesday as it struggles to deal with a weeklong fuel shortage.
New Zealand’s main airport has lost 70 percent of its jet fuel supplies since a digger ruptured the main pipeline that carries fuel to the facility, forcing many air carriers to refuel at other airports in the Pacific region. The accident has also cut off supplies of high-grade gasoline at Auckland gas stations, although fuel supplier Z Energy says stocks of regular gasoline are still plentiful.
The pipeline’s owner says the repairs will not be completed until sometime next week.
Prime Minister Bill English says a naval tanker and military trucks have been assigned to transport fuel to ease the shortage, and has ordered all lawmakers and public employees to avoid any unnecessary air travel until the situation is resolved.
The fuel disruption has placed enormous pressure on English with Saturday’s national elections on the horizon. Jacinda Ardern, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, accused English of ignoring warnings about the pipeline’s vulnerability.
“One pipeline, one digger, and New Zealand grinds to a halt,” Ardern told reporters Tuesday. The 37-year-old politician has led the Labour Party from a certain electoral defeat to a tight race with English’s ruling National Party.