Heathrow Rationing Fuel Because of Oil Depot Fire

Heathrow airport is rationing fuel for airlines because its supplies have been affected by the huge fire at a nearby oil depot, the airport's operator said Friday.

The shortage forced some long-haul carriers to fly to Stansted airport northeast of London to refuel before beginning their journeys.

Until this week, Heathrow got a third of its fuel from the Buncefield depot, where an enormous fire began with a series of explosions before dawn on Sunday.

BAA, which operates the airport, said it had put into operation contingency plans agreed upon with airlines to conserve its fuel supply.

Short-haul carriers have been asked where possible to bring in enough fuel for their outward flight, BAA said. Heathrow is allocating them half of their normal supply.

Long-haul carriers are getting two-thirds of their usual fuel allotment, and can decide themselves how to distribute it among their flights.

The Australian carrier Qantas planned to have a Heathrow-Sydney flight stop at Stansted for fuel before heading to its scheduled stopover in Bangkok, Thailand, adding about 90 minutes to the trip.

South African Airways also said it expected one of its outbound Friday evening flights to make a refueling stop.

British Airways said its flights were operating normally.

BAA said the airport was operating normally. A spokesman said it was impossible to know how long the fuel shortage would continue. The airport has asked its other fuel providers to increase supplies and believes that will boost stocks in time for the busy Christmas period, he said.

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