Thousands of holidaymakers endured widespread delays this morning after Manchester Airport ran out of fuel for the first time in its history, leaving 13 flights stranded on the Tarmac.

Aircraft have been battling the problem at the airport since yesterday afternoon, eventually sparking delays today which saw passengers on one flight to Tunisia having to wait an extra two-and-a-half hours.

Airport officials had today rectified last night’s problem, which was caused by production problems at its supplier, the Essar refinery, near Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.

But a handful of airlines waiting to refuel to leave the airport will not be able to draw on the replenished stocks until 8.30am.

The airport confirmed this morning that of the 13 flights affected, one was to Tunisia, while the others were all short haul European flights to mainland destinations in the likes of Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Most flights were delayed for less that 30 minutes, but a flight to Tunisia scheduled to leave at 6am was delayed for two-and-a-half hours.

An airport spokesman today insisted they were close to ‘business as usual’, but conceded there had been a ‘very small number of delays’.

The problem arose after jet fuel supplies from Stanlow in nearby Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, were disrupted because of quality concerns at the oil refinery.

The spokesperson said: ‘Most of the flights are operating normally. There were no cancellations, no diversions, and most of the airlines have made contingency plans for fuel.

‘There have been a small number of delays while airlines that have brought a single load of fuel wait for fuel at 8.30am.

‘Fuel supplies have been completely restored, we are just waiting for the tanks to fill and then we will release it to the hydrants. Then it will be back to business as usual.’

Airlines had last night been advised to carry more fuel than usual so that they could complete the second leg of their journey from Manchester.

An airport spokeswoman had said last night: ‘Airline fuel supply companies operating at Manchester Airport experienced an interruption to their supply of aviation fuel from the Essar refinery.

‘The refinery has confirmed that fuel supply stocks to Manchester Airport are now being replenished and will be restored by tomorrow morning.’

The airport uses three million litres of fuel a day and a standard tanker can only carry 38,000 litres, meaning they would need 79 trucks just to provide enough for 24 hours.

Bosses were made aware of a potential problem on Tuesday and were told yesterday that the supply would run out later on Wednesday.

In April 2008, airport bosses warned passengers that fuel supplies were running low because of a similar problem – but the issue was rectified before it affected flights.

Source: Daily Mail

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