Nantucket Airport Runs Out of Jet Fuel

Nantucket Memorial Airport has run out of jet fuel at the peak of summer, impacting commercial and private flights at one of New England’s busiest transportation hubs. 

On Saturday the airport suspended jet fuel sales and informed commercial carriers that they needed to fly into the island fully loaded with fuel due to the shortage.

Airport officials said Saturday night that they were not only facing overwhelming demand for jet fuel, but also a logistical nightmare in getting fuel tanker trucks to the island due to record competition for reservations this summer on the Steamship Authority ferries. They also cited a national truck driver shortage as playing a role in the unprecedented situation. 

On Saturday, the airport reserved jet fuel for its scheduled air carriers – including JetBlue, Delta, United and American – in order to ensure those flights and thousands of passengers reached their destinations. Around 1 p.m., the airport stopped selling fuel to the hundreds of private aircraft that come and go from the island on any given summer day.

But on Sunday, it will be “no jet fuel for anyone,” Assistant Airport Manager Noah Karberg said. “We’ve been monitoring this event since Wednesday or Thursday. We’ve put all our air carriers on notice that they had to come in full (of fuel) or schedule an appropriate fuel stop.”

More fuel is expected to arrive on Nantucket via tanker truck by Monday morning with the arrival of the early Steamship Authority ferry.

Until then, dozens of private flights are expected to be impacted on Sunday and commercial airlines will be forced to adjust their operations coming and going from Nantucket. At least one passenger leaving the island over the weekend described how his American Airlines flight left Nantucket but needed to stop and refuel, causing missed flight connections in Philadelphia.

The airport will be holding roughly 3,000 gallons of jet fuel in reserve for Boston Medflight helicopters should they need it, as well as for search and rescue operations. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday issued a formal “Notice to Airmen”, or NOTAM, regarding the situation.

Jet fuel sales are up 60 percent at Nantucket Memorial Airport compared to 2019, and by the end of July it had pumped over 1 million gallons of Jet-A fuel, a record. 

The competition for ferry reservations is another factor, as one cancellation at the beginning of the month threw the airport’s entire fuel delivery schedule into chaos, with ripple effects that were still being felt by the end of July as it tried to play catch-up. 

Nantucket Memorial Airport’s fuel tank farm holds 100,000 gallons of jet fuel – enough to cover normal traffic for four to five days –  but the demand this summer has drained supplies to the point it was holding essentially a single day’s worth of fuel on most days in July. 

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