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Friday, May 06, 2011

Contaminated jet fuel?

On Thursday, some 1,500 people were stranded at Israel's Ben Gurion airport after the airport stopped refueling due to contaminated jet fuel.
Flights out of Ben-Gurion Airport resumed late Thursday night following a frantic day of cancellations and stranded passengers due to contamination in the airport’s aviation fuel supply.

On Thursday evening the airport began dipping into its fuel reserves, and tanker trucks were bringing in millions of liters in an attempt to alleviate the situation, which had left thousands of passengers without a way to leave the country.

El Al said it would offer refunds and alternative flights for those canceled on Thursday, and Israir said it would supply buses to Eilat; all flights to the southern resort were canceled.

Of 13 flights that were grounded on Thursday, six were expected to take off overnight Thursday and the remaining seven on Friday morning.

Approximately 1,500 passengers suffered delays. People whose flights were canceled were offered a choice between a refund or a new ticket to their destination at a later date at no extra charge, an El Al spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.

She added that most passengers were local so there was no need for the airline to book hotel rooms for them.
In general, the peak hours for departing flights at Ben Gurion are the midnight hours and the wee hours of the morning (5:00-10:00 am). Apparently a lot of the flights that were canceled were flights that were taking Israelis to the European Final Four basketball tournament in Barcelona.

As of 8:00 Friday morning, all flights have taken off, although many of them only had enough fuel to get to Cyprus and have to refuel there.

But there's more to this story, which was dropped into Israel Radio broadcasts on Thursday and then disappeared down the memory hole (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).
UPDATE – 5 May approx. 7pm local time (1pm Eastern US).

As loathe as I am to link to ‘The MSNBC Of Israel’, Ha’aretz Daily has some interesting information regarding this ‘anomaly’.

It’s not just jet fuel and it’s not just today.

The symptoms of the contaminated jet fuel which halted flights out of Ben-Gurion International Airport on Thursday were seen in recent weeks in buses and trucks across Israel, TheMarker reported.

The contaminated fuel contains unidentified greasy liquid parts that get stuck in the filter of gas pipelines, damaging the tank of the vehicle. This same type of fuel is what halted flights departing from Ben-Gurion airport, stranding thousands of passengers awaiting information on their flights

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ?!?!?

Will somebody figure out what’s going on and do it quick ?

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UPDATE — 5 May approx. 8:20 pm local time (2:20pm Eastern US).

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) on Thursday called the incident “a severe matter” and said that he has instructed the heads of his ministry to launch an emergency team that will probe how the contamination occurred.

He said that clearing the stranded flights was an immediate priority and that he will ensure that the necessary emergency fuel reserves are supplied in order to achieve that goal.

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UPDATE — 5 May approx 11pm local time (5pm Eastern US).

Flights to resume at midnight local Israel time (6pm Eastern US).

To aid in the resumption of flights from Ben Gurion, Paz, Israel’s largest gas company, agreed to loan tens of fuel trucks to the airport.

Israel’s airport authority estimated flights will resume at Ben Gurion at midnight. Planes will be given enough fuel to safely reach Larnaca Airport in Cyprus for fueling before proceeding to their final destinations.

El Al said it canceled some 20 flights Thursday and provided full refunds to passengers.

Israel Airports Authority spokesman Adar Avisar said Thursday the cause of the contamination remains unknown, but that it was spotted before any planes could take off with contaminated fuel.
Read the whole thing (by the way, he's an hour off - there's a seven hour difference now between Israel and US eastern - not six).


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At 5:50 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Best to assume sabotage and take action. It is very worrying that Israeli jets will have to stop down in Cyprus to be refuelled, as there is no control there over what goes into the jets and turkish mozlems are nearby!


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