Nantucket Airport Shuts Down Private Aviation Services Amid Staffing Shortage

Last weekend Nantucket’s airport ran out of jet fuel. This weekend it has ample fuel supplies but no staff to pump it. 

Nantucket Memorial Airport was forced to shut down its Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services for private aviation on Friday due a staffing shortage caused in part by staff members testing positive for COVID-19. 

The closure does not impact scheduled commercial airline flights or Medflight operations, and the remaining airline staff will continue to marshal private aircraft onto the tarmac as they land. But the closure will affect fueling services, even though the airport now has an adequate supply of jet fuel after running out last weekend. Other services, like lavatory cart services, passenger vehicle escorts and ground transportation, will likely not be available until Monday morning at the earliest. 

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday issued a formal Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to warn about the closure of the FBO and the lack of fueling services. 

Airport officials blamed the situation on an ongoing shortage of seasonal employees, as well as full-time employees being on medical leave, plus an undisclosed number of staff members recently testing positive for COVID-19. 

“The airport is focusing its limited staffing resources on critical safety, security, and operational requirements.” said Assistant Airport Manager Noah Karberg. “This does not affect MedFlights, scheduled airline service, or the integrity of airport safety and security operations. If you are a ticketed passenger on Cape Air, JetBlue, American, or one of our other scheduled airlines, your flight is not impacted by this restriction.” 

Karberg does not expect any flights to be cancelled, but said private aviation would be inconvenienced by the situation. The FBO building itself will remain open to allow flight crews and passengers to utilize the restrooms and lounge. 

The staffing situation, he added, has been building since the start of the season. 

“We started the season short about eight to 10 seasonal employees,” Karberg said. “Over the course of the season, we had a number of them withdraw from service (quit), and additional staffing shortage from off work injuries, and recently from COVID.”

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