Airlines petition FERC for action on fuel shortages

A trade group representing major U.S. passenger and cargo airlines and others on Tuesday asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take emergency action to address fuel shortages at Reno-Tahoe Airport in Nevada through August.

Airlines for America, a group representing American Airlines , Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, FedEx Corp and others, and World Fuel Services said some airlines and cargo carriers have been without access to fuel since July 23.

The group petitioned FERC to give priority in transportation to jet fuel and provide an additional 20,000 barrels of jet fuel capacity, or 541 barrels per day (bpd)through Sept. 6.

The supplies were needed "to prevent disruptions to air travel, critical air freight transportation — including medical personnel and supplies essential to fighting the next wave of COVID-19 infections threatened by the Delta variant — and firefighting efforts," it said.

FERC issued a notice asking for comment on the request by 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday (2100 GMT) and asked some questions "how much of the jet fuel demand at (Reno) in August 2021 will be used to transport medical personnel and supplies and support firefighting efforts."

American Airlines told pilots to conserve jet fuel supplies when possible in a memo on Monday, saying that transportation logistics, including lack of trucks and drivers, is delaying supply to airports throughout the United States.

Fuel prices have been on the rise for several months as demand for gasoline and diesel has snapped back after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Refiners have ramped up processing in the last several months to respond to the recovery in fuel demand, but logistics companies have complained of a lack of available drivers.

Gasoline, diesel and jet fuel demand plunged in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but air travel has rebounded more slowly than other modes of transportation, so refiners have been shipping less jet fuel.

As of mid-July, refiners shipped roughly 1.4 million bpd of jet fuel, which is still about 22% below 2019 levels, according to the U.S. Energy Department. By contrast, gasoline supplied by refiners in mid-July nearly matches 2019's level. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

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