Refuelling Frequency

Fri Apr 09, 1999 1:04 am

Surprisingly,the other day I heard that planes do not necesarily refuel at each airport they land (specially small planes like DC-9, 727, 737, A320, etc). It seems that some time they are loaded with fuel and fly two or three times without refuelling in each airport they visit.

For example I heard this on a flight from Madrid to Barcelona and then to Geneve, the plane did not refuel in Barcelona! (a pretty big airport). For your knowledge the plane was an Iberia MD-87.

I though this was a highly expensive procedure since if you fly with a lot of fuel you don´t need you are flying with a lot of extra weight that will raise considerably your fuel compsumtion.

Is this a rare procedure or is it usual? If it is usual, what's the reason for so?


Posts: 3612
Joined: Mon May 31, 1999 4:44 am

RE: Refuelling Frequency

Fri Apr 09, 1999 2:20 am

This is just my opinion but I don't see a big advantage in that.
If the plane must land at some airport, why don't use the ground rotation time to refuel?
Meanwhile the passengers are leaving or boarding the plane, it's perfectly normal to refuel the plane.
I only can think about some sort of agreaments between airlines and refuelling agents at the airports and in your case, Barcelona is very close to Madrid so maybe there is no need to refuel the plane on that specific route.
That's not an usual procedure at least here in FAO.

Luis, Faro, Portugal
Posts: 389
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2005 8:23 am

RE: Refuelling Frequency

Fri Apr 09, 1999 3:58 am

There's 2 main factors that determine if an airplane refuels or not. Let take a Beech 1900 from Miami to Nassau. Fuel at Nassau is gonna be much more expensive, so traffic load permitting, they'll fill it up to the Maximum Takeoff Weight. Of course pax come first, so sometimes that extra fuel isn't gonna be enough to bring the plane back to Miami. But they still made money by tanking less in Nassau. So the main 2 factors are fuel price and traffic load.
Our airlines Dash8-311 operation saves millions of dollars a year by doing this.
All airlines do it. Of course not having to refuel can somrtimes also cut ground time.
This process of fuelling is called "economical tanking".

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Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Refuelling Frequency

Fri Apr 09, 1999 4:10 am

A big reason like Dash8 said is the cost of fuel.

For example. When I worked at Reeve we did our own fueling. Our 725/726 route flew from ANC to AKN to CDB and returned. The plane never took fuel at AKN. The main reason was the cost of fuel. CDB and AKN both got their fuel via Barge. But the plane always refueled in CDB not AKN. Fuel in AKN was about twice as expensive as CDB. If you ever look at a map of Alaska you will see why.

All of out fuel came either from ANC or SEA. CDB is on the pacific side of the Alaska Penninsula, Akn in in Bristol Bay so the barge has to go all the way around that pennisula to get there. It really adds to the shipping cost.

Another facter that wasn't mention was that sometime you will go ahead a put a large fuel load on to speed up your groundtime at and intermediate stop.

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