Hartsfield-Jackson, Delta: Backup jet fuel supplies keep planes flying

Jet fuel tanks at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in 2011. Johnny Crawford
Jet fuel tanks at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in 2011. Johnny Crawford

Atlanta airport, main airline navigate Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

While the Colonial Pipeline gradually restores fuel supplies across the Southeast, Hartsfield-Jackson and Delta Air Lines say their backup jet fuel supplies are keeping operations running without interruption.

The Atlanta airport is normally supplied by the Colonial Pipeline from Houston as well as the smaller Plantation Pipeline from Louisiana, with an average of about 70% of fuel from Colonial and 30% from Plantation, according to spokesman Andy Gobeil.

Pipeline shipments move at about 5 miles per hour, so that’s why even after the Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline company restarted operations Wednesday, it may take several days to restore full supplies.

The Plantation Pipeline is operated by Products (SE) Pipe Line Corp., also in Alpharetta, and majority owned by Houston-based Kinder Morgan. It handles gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuels.

The Atlanta airport also has multiple fuel farms and jet fuel storage tanks, with enough inventory to supply its hundreds of daily departures.

A member of a Delta ground crew prepares a jet for departure at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in this February file photo. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
A member of a Delta ground crew prepares a jet for departure at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in this February file photo. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Hartsfield-Jackson “was not impacted by the Colonial shutdown,” maintaining adequate fuel supplies throughout, according to Gobeil, the airport spokesman. “Early Thursday morning, the Colonial pipeline resumed operations into the Airport without incident.”

Delta has kept its massive hub in Atlanta running with no impact from the pipeline shutdown on its operations or flight schedules for customers, said Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant.

Atlanta-based Delta also owns an oil refinery in Pennsylvania, which supplies the Northeast region as a separate source of jet fuel from pipeline operators, a valuable resource for its hubs in New York at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on the Today show this week that the carrier is “staying in close contact with the people at Colonial.”

“We’re monitoring the situation very carefully; right now we’re not having any impact at Delta. We have sufficient supply in our stations. This is the reason we carry extra supplies in the event of a short-term outage,” Bastian said.

In a nod to earlier forecasts that supplies will be back by the end of the week, he said, “as long as those predictions come true, we’ll be OK.”

The gas shortages and high prices at the pump could affect ground transportation providers at the airport that rely on gasoline, such as Uber and Lyft. That could exacerbate a shortage of drivers that existed before the pipeline shutdown and has caused longer waits and higher prices for rides in cities across the country.

A check of prices for an Uber ride from Hartsfield-Jackson to downtown Atlanta on Thursday afternoon showed prices starting at more than $50.

Other options for travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson include MARTA, with its station inside the domestic terminal for red and gold lines that go to and from the Airport Station.

About the Author

ajc.com

In Other News