As I mentioned before, when world events are so immense that it is hard to take in the enormity, there is a tendency to narrow ones focus to some aspect that is familiar and relate-able, even at the risk of trivializing the real impact. Animal lovers focus on stranded pets. American talk show hosts discuss how the earthquake influences political candidates' polling numbers. And airline geeks look at the effect on the supply of jet fuel.
There are two intertwined issues, production and transportation. Japan, according to the article linked above, produces four percent of the world's kerosene, and about 1.5 million barrels per day production is offline due to the earthquake. This includes the Cosmo Oil refinery at Chiba which caught fire on fire and other refineries shut down for lack of power because of the nuclear reactors being offline. Other refineries in Japan and elsewhere may have the ability to meet the demand by increasing production, but it also has to be transported through a country with a compromised infrastructure.
Initially reports were that Japan had enough fuel for a week, but airline schedules and policies have changed around the disaster. Japan asked airlines to tanker (i.e. carry in the tanks even though it wasn't needed for the flight) fuel coming into Japan to reduce the amount that needed to be taken there. Some companies are no longer overnighting crews in Japan, giving them an additional leg to Seoul or other nearby Asian cities, so they need to take less fuel in Japan. This partial list of airline changes is interesting to me as it shows some companies cancelling or flying less, but some more capacity, or switching to fewer flights but larger airplanes, depending on passenger demands and other needs of the operation.
AEROFLOT Capacity increase on selected Tokyo flight, as well as extra flight on 17MAR11
SU2575 SVO2145 – 1330+1NRT 763 17MAR11
SU2576 NRT1530 – 2050SVO 763 18MAR11
Service on 17MAR11-19MAR11 from SVO, 18MAR11-20MAR11 from NRT, operates with Ilyushin Il96-300 instead of Boeing 767-300
Air Canada Tokyo departure to Toronto and Vancouver operates via Osaka on 18MAR11/19MAR11
AC002 NRT1710 – 1835KIX1935 – 2100YYZ 77W
AC004 NRT1905 – 2040KIX2140 – 1710YVR 333
Air China Selected Tokyo scheduled service CANCELLED until 26MAR11
Beijing – Tokyo Haneda CA183/184 CANCELLED (Reduce to 1 Daily)
Chengdu – Beijing – Tokyo Narita CA421/422 CANCELLED (PEK NRT Reduce to 12 weekly)
Chongqing – Shanghai Pu Dong – Tokyo Narita CA157/158 CANCELLED (PVG NRT Reduce to 2 Daily)
Larger capacity aircraft to be operated on existing Tokyo flights and other local cities in Japan
AIRFRANCE Stop over at Seoul Incheon in both direction extends to 23MAR11 (24MAR11 from NRT)
Paris CDG – Tokyo Narita
AF276 CDG1050 – 0535+1ICN0655+1 – 0935+1NRT 77W 17MAR11-23MAR11
AF278 CDG2100 – 1545+1ICN1705+1 – 1945+1NRT 77W 17MAR11-23MAR11
AF275 NRT1305 – 1540ICN1655 – 2105CDG 77W 18MAR11
AF277 NRT2155 – 0030+1ICN0145+1 – 0555 +1CDG 77W 18MAR11-24MAR11
AF275 NRT1145 – 1420ICN1535 – 1945CDG 77W 19MAR11-24MAR11
Air India Service until 19MAR11 operates at approximately 2hrs later for DEL departure. Boeing 747-400 or 777-300ER operating
Delhi – Tokyo Narita
AI306 DEL2300 – 0950+1NRT 744 18MAR11-19MAR11
Air Tahiti Nui
Papeete – Tokyo Narita service on 18MAR11 (19MAR11 from NRT) Canceled
Alitalia Until 20MAR11, Tokyo Narita service is CANCELLED, these service will operate into Osaka Kansai
Milan Malpensa – Tokyo Narita
AZ786 MXP2155 – 1730+1NRT 772 18MAR11/20MAR11
AZ787 KIX1700 – 2130MXP 772 19MAR11
Rome – Osaka Kansai Extra flights in operation to replace service to Tokyo Narita from 16MAR11 to 19MAR11
AZ782 FCO1555 – 1200+1KIX 772 19MAR11
AZ784 FCO1855 – 1500+1KIX 772 18MAR11/20MAR11
AZ783 KIX1400 – 2005FCO 772 17MAR11
AZ783 KIX1400 – 1845FCO 772 18MAR11/20MAR11
AZ785 KIX1700 – 2145FCO 772 20MAR11
AZ785 KIX1930 – 0015+1FCO 772 18MAR11/19MAR11
ASIANA AIRLINES Extra one Daily flight on Seoul Incheon – Tokyo Narita planned until 22MAR11
OZ1083 ICN0520 – 0730NRT 321 16MAR11-22MAR11
OZ1073 NRT2125 – 2350ICN 321 16MAR11-22MAR11
Austrian Operation from VIE is delayed on 18MAR11 and return on 19MAR11. Return flight operates via Seoul. Schedule after 19MAR11 will be announced pending on latest situation
Japan's refinery woes compared with unrest in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East is driving up not just jet fuel but ordinary mogas prices. Japan being so technologically advanced and diversified in manufacturing, there is probably no industry unaffected by the events there. I'd be interested in hearing how the earthquake has affected you, even if you're nowhere near Sendai.
Another example - Qantas flights to Tokyo (from Sydney and Perth) are being re-routed via Hong Kong. The stated reason for this is to allow crew overnights in Hong Kong, though I suspect they would also be tankering fuel. Jetstar, Qantas's subsidiary is routing its flights via Osaka for similar reasons. I'm not sure why Qantas isn't also going through Osaka (Hong Kong is kind of out of the way), but it's probably since Osaka not a normal destination for Qantas, and I suspect capacity there will get limited at some point.
Ok, I have to admit, I didn't read all the details of your post... You see, I am the animal lover and you are so right in your first paragraph of this post! Though my husband being the pilot does look at life through Airplane-Coloured Glasses!
I do know that the earthquake has affected many friends of mine as their husbands are pilots that fly over there. Mine flies for a major, but stays stateside, so other than being saddened by what has happened, nothing directly has affected us yet...
Anna, The Pilot's Wife
Disasters directly affect an area, but the repercussions can kneecap a whole region. Same for civil unrest, epidemic, or prolonged labor strikes in essential goods or services.
Thanks for this irreproducible lesson.
Weird. I can't think of any way the earthquake has materially affected me (besides providing an excuse for gas prices to go up).
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