Ramp Closures, Fuel Sale Restrictions Issued By Nantucket Airport

David Creed •

Aircraft a16175a7 40753240154b642b79a8b14aaf2a86eb
Photo by Kit Noble

It's not the number of private jets coming into Nantucket Memorial Airport, but rather the large sizes of aircraft, that have been causing issues for the transportation hub this summer.

Those issues are set to continue this week, as the airport announced Wednesday that it was closing its general aviation ramp to large jets and limiting fuel sales through Sunday.

“We are expecting another busy weekend, and we want to give our customers an opportunity to prepare,” Nantucket Memorial Airport manager Noah Karberg told the Current. “The Airport isn’t busier - the issues with ramp capacity and fuel supply appear to be driven by aircraft size, not volume.”

Early Wednesday morning, Nantucket Memorial Airport officially announced that its general aviation transient ramp will be closed to aircraft with wingspans greater than 79 feet beginning on Friday, July 21 into Sunday, July 23. Aircraft greater than 79 feet will be limited to a 30-minute quick turn on the island - essentially a drop-and-go situation.

Since early July, Nantucket Memorial Airport has been forced to implement temporary restrictions at certain points and on occasion close its smallest runway 15/33 to park private aircraft.

When asked whether these temporary closures are in anticipation of the impending visit from First Lady Jill Biden, who will be on island this weekend to attend a pair of fundraisers, Karberg declined to comment.

Karberg later tweeted on the airport's Twitter account that Martha's Vineyard Airport, New Bedford Airport, and Barnstable Municipal Airport are all ready and available to assist Nantucket with parking and fueling during the duration of the restrictions/closures.

The airport has also announced that it will be restricting jet-A fuel sales beginning July 23 at 6 a.m., which will limit operators to 300 gallons of jet-A fuel per day. The airport said in a press release that this sales restriction only impacts non-tenant general aviation aircraft and does not impact scheduled commercial service or MedFlights.

The airport’s actions to combat the limited space available for the aircraft coming and going began during the weekend ahead of the July 4 holiday, when Karberg said the airport may have experienced its busiest 24 hour period ever. A temporary closure of the airport's transient general aviation ramp was one of several measures taken by airport management over that weekend as it attempted to handle the aircraft coming and going.

Over the last week of June, the Jet-A fuel sales were up 24% over that same time period in 2022.

Fuel is delivered to the airport in 10,000-gallon tanker trucks on the Steamship's freight ferry run dedicated for hazmat materials. The airport said that a 24 percent increase in summer jet-A sales is equivalent to an additional requirement of 25 trucks over the remaining nine weeks of the season, which equates to 2-3 trucks per week.

Karberg said being able to accommodate this increase is unrealistic given the numerous complexities that arise while attempting to bring an extra two or three unanticipated tanker trucks over on the ferry during the island's busiest time of the year.

“It’s not just boat space,” he said. “Finding supply from a jet-A terminal, trucks, and even drivers are all limiting factors. We also have our own limits to store and pump fuel.”

Karberg was adamant that the airport is not out of jet-A fuel but instead is taking these measures as a precaution to preserve supply for emergency situations such as Boston MedFlights, air ambulance services, and search and rescue.

“Demand is clearly outpacing supply, and without action we will have negative product balance by (Monday), July 24th,” Karberg added.

Corporate aircraft are the largest consumers of jet-A fuel at the airport, not larger commercial aircraft belonging to airlines such as JetBlue, American, United, or Delta. These corporate aircraft can take on 2,500 gallons or more of fuel. Karberg said the median corporate uplift is approximately 300 gallons so by setting this cap, the airport can still serve half of their market without any inconvenience.

“We also preserve up to 10,000 gallons of inventory daily,” Karberg said.

The end date of these fuel sale restrictions is unknown. The airport said they will continue until the fuel inventory outlook improves and added that further restrictions are possible.

The airport’s fuel farm has a safe-fill capacity of 114,000 gallons. On Saturday, July 15, the airport saw sales of 30,873 gallons of fuel. Its protocol is to limit sales of jet-A fuel when inventory falls below 30,000 gallons and to cease all sales when their inventory is less than 5,000 gallons.

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