Nashville International Airport's fuel supplies fall low during the Colonial Pipeline stoppage

Posted at 6:17 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 21:45:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Colonial Pipeline is scheduled to resume operations Wednesday evening, but that doesn't mean fuel supplies will suddenly become plentiful again. AAA Tennessee warned NewsChannel 5 on Tuesday that it will take several days for gasoline to make the long journey through the pipeline and return to Tennessee.

In the meantime, Nashville International Airport is feeling a short-term squeeze. Doug Kreulen, President and CEO of the airport, confirmed to NewsChannel 5 that they normally keep 6.6 million gallons of fuel on-site to help refuel planes. Right now, that's down to about 750,000 gallons.

To help ease concerns, Southwest Airlines and other companies are practicing a concept called tankering. That's when planes fuel up enough at another airport for them to land and take off on their next leg, without having to refuel in Nashville.

BNA doesn't purchase fuel itself, which belongs to the airlines and their fuel consortium. The airport has been told that they're at the top of the list to receive the next shipment of fuel via tanker trucks, but the time, date and amount have not been shared.

"I don’t want to get stuck here. I’ve already missed a week of work so I need to get home," said Michael Partlow, who was in town for his niece's graduation.

Thankfully for travelers, flights haven't been impacted.

"Overall, I think we’ll be fine," said Ralph Johnson, who was wrapping up a vacation in Nashville.

In the meantime, these travelers hope another shortage has taught us all a lesson. "It’s sad, it’s about society, right? Rather than looking out for everybody and saying I have enough to get through the week, they’re shorting everyone else, unfortunately," said Partlow.

"That’s the name in aviation, no flight is ever the same, no day is ever the same. So you just have to adapt and overcome whatever’s thrown in your face," said Hunter Alexander, an MTSU pro-pilot student and avid fan of aviation.