Russian Pipeline Hack Is Already Causing Flights To Schedule Extra Stops

Russian hacking group DarkSide appears to be responsible for the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack which caused the shut down of the pipeline which supplies over 2.5 million barrels per day of oil to the Southeast especially but also to the northeast. This represents about 45% of the supply of gas and jet fuel to the region.

Hackers stole nearly 100 gigabytes of data, and threatened to publish it. The pipeline shut down, reportedly with no way to bill customers for oil without the computers that were offline. And it is unclear whether it will be days or weeks to become fully operational again.

The White House declared a state of emergency which, among other things, allowed shipping more oil by truck (though there’s a shortage of drivers). They have not waved the Jones Act which protects U.S. shipping from competition, to allow foreign ships to carry oil.

Early Monday I predicted that the Colonial pipeline hack could cause problems for airlines and identified Charlotte as one of the key airports to watch out for, although I also suggested we could see problems at other large hubs and smaller airports.

Specifically I said we might see airlines

  • load up extra fuel for return trips on short hops with some aircraft (though that itself weighs more and burns more fuel).

  • schedule some flights with a technical stop to refuel (which adds at least an hour to a journey – delaying flights, causing missed connections, and having knock-on effects throughout the schedule).

  • ration fuel so planes carry less extra fuel and have a smaller margin before being forced to divert.

We are already seeing scheduled re-fueling stops for the longest flights out of Charlotte. American Airlines has scheduled its Charlotte – Honolulu and Charlotte – London flights with fuel stops for Tuesday, as first noted by aviation watchdog JonNYC.

Charlotte – Honolulu has been given a planned refueling stop in Dallas, and this is specifically attributed to ‘fuel shortage east coast pipeline’.

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Charlotte – London Heathrow has been given a planned refueling stop in Boston, and this is also attributed to ‘conditions at the local airport’ in Charlotte.

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We’re no longer at the stage of wondering whether the pipeline hack, and disruption to the Southeast’s supply of oil, will have real world effects. That’s already starting. Now the only question is whether Patrick Swayze was right in Road House that “it’ll get worse before it gets better.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. History tells us that if England and France had not capitulated to Hitler over the Sudetenland, he would have been overthrown in a coup by the German military.

    Learning from history, why are we appeasing Putin who is behind these hackers (directly or indirectly through his various military and intel services)? Why are we not hacking their IT systems until Russia stops this harassment, or, Putin is deposed?

    When do we learn how appeasement does not work; it only kicks the can down the road?

  2. Going after the oil supply chain, which directly benefits Russia in many ways, is very suspicious. I agree with Mark, it’s time to fight back. Let’s hack in to their Vodka supply chain. Stoli is going down.

  3. Good thing the vegetable is canceling pipeline projects. Maybe we can just buy the oil from Russia?

  4. “Russian hacking group DarkSide appears to be responsible for the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack…”

    Seriously, is there anything the government contends that Gary won’t believe? Another classic example of “The Russians are coming”. Unbelievable!

  5. James N, yeah, he is so laughable for being so gullible! Stopped taking his “blogging” seriously for exactly the same reason – all that fluff and shoddy American propaganda that he constantly preaches to hawkish US grandpa’s stuck in the 60’s.

  6. What do vegetables have to do with jet fuel? Glad you asked. Fuel made from food scraps could slash the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. Apparently there is a way to convert organic waste into paraffin, a kerosene-like fuel that can be used in jet engines. Your flight to Brussels may yet be powered by Brussels Sprouts.

  7. and yet Europe is signing up for a pipeline to bring in Russian natural gas.
    They won’t stand with the US against Russia.

    It will take weeks for supplies to be restored after the pipeline is offline for a week.

    CLT has been rapidly built and doesn’t have the infrastructure of other hubs.

    and then you have Delta’s NYC and Boston hubs which are supplied by their own refinery.

  8. @Gene You’ll have to ask the vegetable himself who will inturn ask Presidents Harris, Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez to study ways to harness the methane from farting cows and refine it to power John Kerry’s private jet. Also crucial to this is raising the federal minimum wage to $25/hr, corporate taxes to 80% and extending the bonus unemployment until 2030.
    “Because great is what we’re going for!”

  9. So much for the previous president cozying up to the Russian dictator/president nonstop for four years and whispering sweet things in his ear behind doors & w/o translation records…didn’t do us much good it seems

  10. Putin is very unhappy about the latest round of US sanctions. He also has problems at home. Without declaring war he has unleashed the dogs to teach Biden a lesson. All the talk about these players being “criminals” is just a smokescreen. This is going to get worse.

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