American Airlines is adding refueling stops to some flights as fuel pipeline hack chokes supplies

May 11, 2021

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American Airlines confirmed on Monday it would add a refueling stop to two of its routes through at least May 15, as the impact of the Colonial Pipeline hack began to ripple across the East coast.

The 5,500 mile pipeline, which carries gasoline and diesel from the Gulf Coast in Texas to New Jersey, is the main pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast. It was forced offline on Friday after a ransomware attack by an Eastern European criminal gang known as DarkSide, U.S. officials said Monday. President Biden said Monday that while there is no evidence that Russia is involved, the Russian president Vladimir Putin has, “some responsibility to deal with this” since the attackers are thought to be based in Russia.

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The pipeline carries roughly 45% of all gasoline and diesel fuel consumed on the East Coast, the Wall Street Journal reported.

American Airlines said that due to the fuel shortage, it would add stops to two long-haul flights from its Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

Its flight from Charlotte to Honolulu (HNL) will stop in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), where passengers will change planes from a Boeing 777-200 to a Boeing 777-300.

Meanwhile, its flight from Charlotte to London Heathrow (LHR) will stop to receive more fuel in Boston (BOS) before continuing on.

The airline said that it expected the flights to return to their normal schedules on May 15, and said in a statement that it was working to make sure it had enough fuel to cover its entire network:

“Currently, we are experiencing minimal operational impact to our overall flight schedule due to the fuel supply shortage on the East Coast — with two daily long-haul flights out of Charlotte (CLT) impacted as a result. We are closely monitoring the situation and working around the clock to ensure that we have an adequate supply of fuel across our network.”

Colonial Pipeline said it expected to have the conduit back online by this coming weekend, according to the Journal. Gas prices were expected to surge as the outage continues.

Spokespersons for Delta Air Lines and United Airlines told TPG that there are currently no operational impacts, although it was not immediately clear whether that might change if the pipeline remains shutdown for a longer period. A source at Delta said the airline expects to see no operational impact if the pipeline is brought online again by the weekend, as Colonial has estimated, but that further delays beyond that could lead to adjustments.

Featured image by John Nacion/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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