Multiple issues, including supply chain disruptions and the ongoing regional wildfires, have led to a startling shortage of jet fuel at airports across the Western United States, as reported by ABC News.
One factor in the shortage is the priority of fuel for firefighting aircraft needed to combat the ongoing fires in many of the Western states, which is impacting commercial flights that also need fuel. Another issue is a shortage of tanker truck drivers to make the fuel deliveries to several airports. Combined with a rise in demand for air travel, the shortage of fuel could subsequently create even more devastating effects for the impacted regions.
One of the most heavily-hit airports is the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada, which serves Nevada’s second-largest metro area, providing access for tourists to both the major gambling center of Reno, as well as the popular vacation destination of Lake Tahoe.
Several lawmakers in Nevada warned that a failure to secure fuel for commercial flights into Reno-Tahoe could lead to an economic downturn for the region due to the decline in tourism. Governor Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.), Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Congressman Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) all signed a letter declaring that “further failure to secure adequate fuel supplies is unacceptable.” In response, a spokesperson for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority pointed to the lack of tanker truck drivers, claiming that “there’s just nobody available to drive the trucks of fuel in here.”
Other airports impacted by these issues include Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California, and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana. In Wyoming, Governor Mark Gordon (R-Wyo.) addressed the driver shortage by signing an order allowing truck drivers to work for longer hours if they are delivering fuel specifically meant for firefighting efforts, while still ordering them to take mandatory breaks if they are tired. Similar orders have been signed by other governors in the region, including South Dakota’s Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).