Airports across the country – especially in the Western U.S. – have faced jet fuel shortages in recent weeks amid a spike in post-pandemic travel paired with a national labor shortage. But as a Fox Business column recently reported, a lack of infrastructure is also contributing to the growing problem.
At Reno-Tahoe International Airport – Nevada’s second-largest airport – officials have warned the fuel shortage could cause the cancellation of cargo and passenger flights, “a move that could threaten the state’s economy.” Many smaller airports are facing similar challenges.
As Fox Business opinion contributor Phil Flynn explains:
Major airport hubs have a better infrastructure that allows them to bring in jet fuel by pipeline and have also places to store it. Smaller airports in many cases have oil trucked in. This is not very efficient as many smaller airports are handling a lot more air traffic than they would have, say, 20 years ago.
Additionally, without a pipeline, fuel needs to be trucked in. But the labor shortage grappling the country is hampering those efforts. It is very difficult to get people to come back to work especially when it comes to the fuel industry. Transporting fuel in or around an airport requires a lot of screening and security and a lot of compliance training. After COVID-19, many of those workers were laid off and at this point don’t want to come back to work.
Building more pipelines is the obvious solution to this problem. Flynn writes, “Building more pipelines would assure the free flow of jet fuel when it is needed. Building more storage tanks at smaller airports or expanding these airports would allow for plenty of available fuel.”
However, a small but vocal group of anti-pipeline activists continue to create unnecessary barriers to much-needed infrastructure development that could mitigate these challenges. Flynn concludes, “So if you are against pipelines, the next time you’re sitting on the tarmac and your flight has been canceled due to lack of fuel, maybe you might want to reconsider your opposition to pipelines.”