Jet fuel in short supply at Iqaluit airport, Nunavut minister confirms

Shortage of aviation fuel won’t affect regularly scheduled flights

On a typical day, the Iqaluit airport is full of passengers heading in and out of the airport. The frequency of regular flights and medevacs from the airport won’t change due to a shortage of aviation fuel, but other flghts which want to refuel there will have make sure beforehand that there is enough fuel. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

(Updated on June 5 at 7:15 a.m.)

Regular scheduled flights and medical flights will not suffer from a lack of aviation fuel known as Jet A-1 at the Iqaluit International Airport.

Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s minister of Community Services and Government talks about the shortage of aviation fuel at the busy Iqaluit International Airport. (Photo by Jane George)

That’s the assurance from Lorne Kusugak, the minister of Community and Government Services, who spoke to Nunatsiaq News yesterday at the Nunavut legislature.

But charter aircraft and aircraft on unscheduled flights that want to refuel in Iqaluit should make their own arrangements with Uqsuq Corp. before they land at the airport and ask to refuel.

“You need to check before you fly,” Kusugak said.

If operators of these flights do not call ahead, there may not be enough fuel in Iqaluit to supply them, although most flights have an alternative fueling location, such as Kuujjuaq, or carry enough fuel.

The shortage of jet fuel at the Iqaluit airport is occurring because the airport usually starts to receive its annual sealift shipment in July or August, depending on ice conditions and marine shipping schedules.

Kusugak said a first delivery should take place in July and again in October.

In the weeks leading up to the first fuel resupply, it isn’t unusual for Iqaluit to start running short of aviation fuel, he said.

This year, it’s due to extra flights associated with mining activity, such as the Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River mine, he said.

This is a screenshot of the notice issued about the shortage of aviation fuel at the Iqaluit airport.

That’s led the Government of Nunavut to file on May 23 a “notice to airmen,” or NOTAM, with Transport Canada, to alert pilots of potential hazards or crucial information along a flight route.

Planners for flights heading into Iqaluit should now check ahead to ensure they’ll find enough fuel on hand for refueling.

Jet fuel A-1, a diesel mixture, powers jets as well as turboprops and is a mix of pure kerosene and burns at temperatures at or above 49 °C (120 °F)

Reports say that small aircraft have arrived at Iqaluit assuming there would be fuel, only to discover it was used up just before they arrived.

The 100LL fuel, a highly refined form of gasoline for aircraft, is only available in full drums. The last published price was $318.06 per 45-gallon drum.

The current drum count is not available because it’s now stored at different locations at the airport, preventing informal drum counts, a website for polar pilots says.

If you’re planning to land in Iqaluit, it advises to check directly with Uqsuq Corp. or the local FBO Frobisher Bay Touchdown Services, which regularly services small aircraft transiting through Iqaluit.

Share This Story

(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Andy on

    Well done CGS. Maybe the word International should be removed out of the name Iqaluit International Airport should be changed to “Iqaluit no fuel and no parking airport” Just another glorious performance on display and a demonstration about how not to do your job

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Okay nothing really unusual about the GN running low on 100LL prior to resupply. Sure you would like to think that the GN would order a bit more to ensure that they don’t run out, but if some of Buffalo’s WWII fleet drops by you can sell a lot of fuel in a short time.

    What I do question is not being able to get a drum count. This is fuel inventory owned by the GN. Doesn’t anyone do a monthly inventory and then check that the inventory at the start of the month minus monthly sales equals the inventory at the end of the month? Or does no one in the GN know that 100LL works great in snowmobiles?

    Might this be another reason that 100LL supplies are always low at this time of the year?

    Come on GN there is no excuse for you not to know to the gallon (or litre) exactly how much 100LL you have on hand.

    • Posted by Brian Tattuinee on

      The headline and storyline are misleading. Jet A-1 is in the NOTAM not Avgas.

      Also, every other community in Nunavut except Iqaluit is managed by the GN. In Iqaluit this is managed by Uqsuq.

      I suspect that this particular fuel situation has been well managed. Putting out a NOTAM this early to ensure scheduled and most unscheduled services are able to continue.

      To go even further, Iqalut is by far the easiest community to tanker fuel in by air, albeit not ideal, it’s still one of the easiest.

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        Brian, I see that the article has been updated to show Jet A-1 instead of 100LL. I still respectfully disagree that the GN does a good job at managing aviation fuel.

        This will not be the first time that Jet A-1 has been NOTAMED as being in short supply. Tankering fuel is expensive for the airlines, and they have no choice but to pass on higher costs to their customers. Why does this happen year after year?

        Unless I am mistaken the GN does all the fuel ordering and Uqsuq is just the distributor in Iqaluit, meaning any shortage is the fault of the GN.

        I can see maybe one year in 5 when. Demand exceeds forecasted supply, but this is a yearly issue.

  3. Posted by Secrecy Above All Else on

    Come on, the Iqaluit airport expansion was done specifically to support the Mary River mine. The old airport was crowded at peak times, but it was manageable.
    Surely someone should have planned for the fuel for Mary River flights. Or perhaps there’s a shortage of capacity at the tank farm.

    As far as not being able to count the drums, that’s obviously a case of intentional hiding, so people won’t know.

  4. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    I agree with Old Trapper. The management of this fuel should be computerized and a physical count done every month at a minimum. Now that we know it meets snowmobile standards. hmmmm.

  5. Posted by Nunavumiuq on

    Once again its a sign of falling behind with infrastructure in Nunavut and makes us wonder if we were still under NWT we would fall behind like Nunavut is.
    Voting for Nunavut was for political gain not necessarily for its people and infrastructure and these are obvious sign of falling behind in all areas.

    • Posted by Flight of Fancy on

      How do you know it’s an infrastructure thing?

      It could just as easily be mismanagement by Uqsuq or PPD.

  6. Posted by You copy, Charlie? on

    Poster Nunavumiuq: Yes we woulfd fall behind even with YK as our HQ (GNWT) even further as we are so far away from decision-makers – same as Kitikmeot is neglected by GN, right, Charlie?

Comments are closed.