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Friday, April 20, 2012

The enemy within: When your own staff steals jet fuel!

Strict cost control is probably the only thing keeping airlines alive these days. The ever rising fuel price means airlines should look into more fuel efficiency for routine operations. To have a good fuel efficiency program, there is one ingredient that airlines often overlook... Airport Security!

What is the point of trying to save fuel by spending thousands of man-hours in "Fuel Savings Committee" meetings if you power up your jet in the morning and look at the fuel log and see there is fuel missing of half a ton to several tons? You'd wonder, "who the heck refuelled this aircraft last night?"

But before airlines should accuse the state oil company (who has a monopoly on fuel supply at Indonesian airports) of short-changing them, who's guarding the plane overnight?

I'm not kidding when it comes to having half a ton missing or even several tons of fuel missing. One airline discovered one morning that 2 (TWO) tons was missing overnight, and there was no refuelling. So, who's next in line to be the scapegoat? The airport of course! But then, apart from several instances where the apron CCTV failed to work, don't be surprised if one of your aircraft right in front of the CCTV loses several tons of fuel overnight!

So the question is... who's been doing the stealing?

Today, came across this: "Airline engineers caught stealing 2 tons of jetfuel at Jakarta CGK airport" (article in Indonesian only).

Whilst doing a routine road checkpoint at the airport, police stopped a vehicle carrying jerrycans of jet fuel. To cut the long story short, it turns out that a syndicate of several Sriwijaya Air technicians and outside accomplices were being offered money to sap jet fuel from overnighting aircraft and dropping the loot at a pre-arranged location. They admitted to have been doing it over the past 4 months. 

I snooped around several friends in the airlines and they said many airlines have had fuel stolen from them, and they don't expect this to stop. After all, the police checkpoint was actually there to look for drugs and stolen vehicles, not stuff being stolen from the airport. If we still need lucky discoveries like this to catch the fuel thieves... it's not going to stop is it?

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