A nationwide strike of fuel-delivery drivers in Portugal has led to warnings of major flight disruptions for travelers.
Hazardous-goods vehicle drivers belonging to Portuguese transport union Sindicato Nacional de Motoristas de Matérias Perigosas (SNMP) are striking. The action is part of a dispute over professional recognition and workers’ rights. The strike is affecting petrol stations in Portugal but, critically for international travelers, is also leading to fuel shortages at the country’s airports.
Airports and airlines already affected
Reporting by The Independent says shortages are already affecting Lisbon, Porto, and Faro airports. An easyJet spokesperson revealed that six flights between the UK and Portugal had already needed to stop for fuel on the relatively short route. One evening flight from Faro to Gatwick paused in Porto, northern Portugal, to refuel. Another from Faro to Bristol stopped in Santiago, Spain. A further easyJet flight from Portugal to Geneva was postponed until Wednesday morning.
The airline says it is “doing everything possible” to minimize disruption. It has also apologized to customers for the inconvenience “experienced as a result of the strike action.”
British Airways (BA) flights are also affected with an evening flight on Tuesday delayed by three hours. BA says it is continuing to review the situation, and that:
Like all airlines, we are experiencing some minor disruption to our schedule as a result of the strike action in Portugal.
Airlines flying shorter routes into Portugal should be able to carry enough fuel to return to their originating airports.
Lisbon airport, Portugal’s most frequented, warns:
Due to a national strike, aircraft fuel supply was interrupted, so there might be changes to your flight. For further details, please contact your airline.
An energy crisis for Portugal
The SNMP promised that a minimum level of services would be provided by drivers in order to limit the effect of the action. However, fuel supplies are running out and Portugal has declared an “energy crisis”. Portugal’s Minister of Economy Pedro Siza Vieira says:
At both airports, where fuel supply wasn’t ensured, we have reached critical levels of fuel reserves for aircraft refueling.
With President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa saying the government is working to “stabilise and normalise the situation.” Prime Minister Antonio Costa says the Portuguese government is determined to deliver essential fuel across Portugal and not just to its biggest cities.
Oil companies and the Portuguese government and security forces are reportedly sending tankers to Lisbon airport to replenish supplies. The Portuguese transport union, representing hazardous-goods drivers, has said the strike will continue until its demands are met.
Latest: Portugal fuel shortage crisis due to strikes) is affecting air travel 🛢
• easyJet aircraft forced to make fuel stops on flights departing #Portugal
• Delays on several flights waiting leaving Lisbon — including British Airways, TAP Air Portugal & Ryanair.
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) April 17, 2019
Latest reports indicate no further cancellations due to fuel shortages on Wednesday. Airport authority ANA says fuel supply is resuming to Lisbon and Faro. News agency Lusa reported that Porto was also receiving fuel.
In other news, struggling Indian airline Jet Airways has now suspended all flights after failing to secure vital funding to keep its planes in the air.