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Temporary flight route changes to support CI aviation fuel supplies

Number: A008/2021

Date: 24 February 2021

There will be some temporary changes to passenger air service routes for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT), to manage ongoing delays to aviation fuel delivery to Christmas Island (CI) caused by poor weather conditions.

From Tuesday, 2 March 2021, all passenger flights to the IOT will be temporarily rerouted to first stop at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) – and refuel – before travelling on to CI, then return to Perth.

This will help manage the available aviation fuel stocks on CI, until the new supplies can be off-loaded from the sea freighter. It should be noted, this change will only affect the Tuesday service route, as the Friday flight already stops at CKI first.

I acknowledge the significant impact this short-term measure will have on inter-island travel in particular and I thank all travellers – visitors and residents – for their patience and understanding as the Australian Government works to ensure the continued operation of essential air services to the IOT.

Virgin Australia will be in contact with affected passengers and will provide further information on these temporary flight arrangements shortly.

CI has been affected by an unusually strong and lengthy swell season this year, which has reduced the ability of shipping services to moor and unload at CI. This has prevented some essential supplies – including aviation fuel – from being delivered in recent months.

Unfortunately, continuing poor weather prevented full offload of freight on CI last week, including the aviation fuel. However, it was positive to see 15 refrigerated containers of food supplies successfully delivered.

While we await the return of the ship and its successful offload of the remaining supplies and fuel, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is working with Air BP, Toll, Virgin Australia and other stakeholders to manage fuel use and uptake from CI until the next delivery.

Adequate fuel supplies are available to support critical operations such as medical evacuation flights. I will keep you informed as we continue to deliver essential passenger and freight air services to the IOT.

Natasha Griggs
Administrator of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands