Jet fuel shortages could lead to long delays at western US airports

Jul 26, 2021

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I had a phenomenal trip to Montana earlier this year, including two uneventful flights through Bozeman Airport, a regional hub seeing a flurry of additional activity in recent months. Over the past few weeks, however, the experience hasn’t been nearly as seamless for some flyers — in Bozeman and beyond.

The challenge? A shortage of jet fuel, leading airlines to cancel or delay some flights. According to the Associated Press, an increase in demand from aircraft used to fight wildfires, paired with a jump in commercial flights led to the shortage at Bozeman (BZN). The airport confirmed the issues on its Twitter page, as well.

Montana isn’t the only state having trouble meeting the growing demand for jet fuel, however. According to the same AP report, California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) has also seen an impact — in that case, a shortage of tanker truck drivers is to blame.

Related: What to do when an airline changes your flight

Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) is also being impacted, according to another AP report. On Saturday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak released a statement, in cooperation with other state politicians:

“We learned earlier this week of potential jet fuel shortages that could delay cargo delivery and passenger travel at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in coming days. Governor Sisolak, Senator Cortez Masto, Senator Rosen and Congressman Amodei have been working together to triage the situation to avoid and minimize disruption for passengers and ensure critical operations, including the delivery of essential goods into the State.”

The fuel supply issue appears to be impacting airports beyond the western states mentioned above, too. In an internal memo obtained by CNBC, American Airlines noted that other airports could face shortages, and the problem could continue through the middle of next month.

“American Airlines station jet fuel delivery delays initially affected mostly western U.S. cities, but are now being reported at American stations across the country. Delivery delays are expected to continue through mid-August,” the airline wrote in the memo.

While some flights have been impacted, others continue to operate on schedule — including many of the commercial flights flying through Bozeman, Fresno and Reno today. Still, if you’re traveling within the U.S. over the next few weeks, be sure to pay close attention to your flight status, even if you aren’t expecting any inclement weather.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

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