United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) expects to resume normal service to Cape Town International in South Africa, with its next scheduled flight from New York Newark due there on October 5 after a ship carrying jet fuel arrived in the Mother City, ending a temporary fuel shortage.

The airline was forced to cancel its inbound flight (UA 1122) on October 2 and return leg (UA 1123) on October 3 after the supply ship was delayed for more than a week because of bad weather. United Airlines operates a B787-9 thrice weekly on the route.

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) issued a NOTAM in the early hours on October 1 (valid until October 5) advising airlines to restrict their fuel uptake at Cape Town and for international carriers to schedule technical refuelling stops at alternative airports. Some airlines reportedly diverted their Cape Town flights to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo to refuel, while domestic carriers tankered supplies. According to Radarbox ADS-B data, flights by the following airlines were impacted over the weekend: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa; British Airways; Turkish Airlines; Air Belgium; Qatar Airways; RwandAir; TAAG Angola Airlines; FlySafair; South African Airways; and CemAir.

The supply vessel eventually arrived on October 3, and by the following day the fuel was being transported by road from the ship to Cape Town International Airport. ACSA advised airlines it would withdraw its fuel restriction NOTAM on October 5 once sufficient stock had been delivered.

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) said the jet fuel crisis highlighted South Africa's vulnerability because it relied on imported jet fuel. It called on the South African government and fuel suppliers to urgently establish a robust resilience plan to ensure sufficient aviation fuel stocks.

"Although our local and regional short-haul airlines can tanker fuel [carry more than optimally required for a single flight] to maintain their schedules, in doing so they must incur additional costs as the extra fuel load increases the overall weight of each plane, in turn burning more fuel to carry the extra contingency supply. This puts further cost pressures on airlines when they are already struggling with a more than 100% rise in the price of jet fuel, higher finance charges and interest rates, and increased labour and other costs," the AASA said.

It also urged the government to waive additional on-route air navigation and airport fees that international airlines incur when making intermediate en-route refuelling stops at alternative airports such as Johannesburg or Durban King Shaka.