Water in Jet Fuel May Disrupt Air Traffic Today

Flights from Israel to U.S., Far East will have to stop in Europe to refuel; domestic flights not expected to be affected.

A new case of fuel contamination at Ben-Gurion International Airport may cause disruptions to long-haul flights scheduled to depart after 10 P.M. tonight, the Israel Airports Authority announced yesterday.

This comes six months after a previous incident of fuel contamination grounded flights and caused widespread confusion. This time around, an unacceptably large quantity of water was found in the airport's fuel tanks.

Due to the fuel contamination, flights from Israel to destinations including the United States and the Far East will have to stop in Europe to refuel. Domestic flights are not expected to be affected.

Airline sources voiced sharp criticism regarding the airport's fuel supply as news emerged of the new crisis.

"I don't know what to think anymore," said an executive at a foreign airline. "We haven't yet recovered from the last fuel crisis, and now we're facing a new one. We still don't know who was responsible for the last contamination. All the committees appointed to examine the issue, including the one on behalf of the International Air Transport Association, failed to find a culprit.

"The airlines don't know who to sue over the grave financial damages the last affair caused them, or who is responsible for the newest failure."

The airlines were informed of the fuel problems via an IAA announcement. The IAA explained that Paz Aviation Assets, the company responsible for the fuel supply, had discovered that there was too much water in its storage tanks. Its experts had also conducted tests. After seeing the results, the regulator decided to cut the airport's fuel supply starting at 10 P.M. today, until further test results come in.

The last incident also involved the contamination of Paz's fuel tanks. The IAA committee that investigated the previous failure declined to blame Paz even though the contamination apparently occurred in the company's storage tanks in Ashdod.