All out of truck(s)
Cancellations at commercial airports – the US Memorial Day holiday weekend saw more than 7,000 worldwide – have highlighted how aviation faces a pilot shortage. But aviation is not alone. There is no point having pilots ready if you have no fuel.
“It is ridiculous, but we have reduced the amount of supply we bring to the market because it’s simply not possible because we cannot get fuel,” says Bernhard Fragner, CEO of operator GlobeAir. “Although we have a high demand situation, we cannot deliver. We receive notifications every 15 minutes on which airport is struggling to supply fuel. It comes literally down to a lack of staffing. A lack of logistics people, a lack of truck drivers.”
It is a global issue. In 2021 the American Trucking Associations estimated that there is a shortage of 80,000 truckers in the US. In Europe, Poland’s International Road Haulage Association says they have lost more than 10,000 Ukrainian truck drivers who have returned to fight since the conflict started. The UK has lost many foreign drivers because of Brexit.
Adel Mardini, CEO and president of Jetex, says they are not seeing big issues yet. “Perhaps this is due to Jetex’s service model where we provide complete trip planning which includes FBO/ground handling arrangement and fuel delivery. This allows us to coordinate between the various service providers ahead of time and mitigate against possible delay,” Mardini tells CJI.
The shortage of drivers also raises the cost of fuel (which is already very high). “The longer the distance the jet fuel is trucked to its destination relates to an increased cost as well. A shortage of truck drivers throughout North America’s transportation sector only exasperates the distance fuel has to travel from point A to point B,” says Joel Hirst, senior vice president, Sales, Avfuel. “Like rising crude oil prices, diesel fuel also impacts the transport truck delivery price – over the road transport truck rates have increased substantially since the beginning of the year due to an increased cost of diesel fuel to operate the transport truck.”
Fragner has one solution. “These major fuel companies just posted record profits and while I understand costs have gone up, the wages of employees, like truck drivers, need to go up too. Simply, higher wages will attract more drivers.”