Portugal Is Hours Away From Running Out Of Aviation Fuel

A nationwide strike of fuel-delivery drivers in Portugal has led to warnings of major flight disruptions for travelers.

A TAP Air Portugal A340
A TAP Air Portugal A340. Image Source: TAP Air Portugal

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.”

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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.

A TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330.
A TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330. Image Source: TAP Air Portugal.

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 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.

1 comment
  1. Good old European socialism: the sun is shining, so it’s time to start striking!
    Spanish air traffic controllers plan to strike this Easter weekend.
    No doubt the French will jump in on the action promptly thereafter.
    Are there any major airlines in Europe who haven’t been hit by strikes in the last 3 years?
    What a great continent to do business on 😉

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