International aviation fuel supplier Air BP has this month marked twenty years of business in Albania. Fuelling began with one 30,000 litre refuelling vehicle and a four-tank facility with a total capacity of 120m3 serviced by six employees. Air BP’s tanker drivers had a 750 kilometre (km) trip by road from Athens to supply the airport with aviation fuel. Today Air BP operates four 30,000 litre refuelling vehicles along with three dedicated road tankers.
In addition the business now has eight tanks with a capacity of 600m3 located at Tirana International Airport and an additional 3,300m3 in rented tanks at the coastal terminal at Vlore. The team which has almost doubled in size, refuels around 5,000 aircraft annually for customers supporting over 1.6 million passengers and today Air BP remains a key service supplier at the airport. Unlike the early days when a phone and fax were a luxury the 24/7 operation now utilises sophisticated communications to stay in touch with customers.
“We’ve been in Albania for 20 years and plan to be here a lot longer,” said Fabio Amatucci, Central Mediterranean Manager, Air BP. “We want to build on our position and develop further business in the Balkan region. The experience of the Albanian team has proved invaluable in supporting growth in other countries including Croatia and Slovenia. We are very proud of the team and their achievements as it demonstrates Air BP’s ability to grow business in smaller countries in our international portfolio.”
Challenges have included the Kosovo conflict when the fuel company had to transform the supply infrastructure within a few days to accommodate over ten times the average demand and support the international air operations. To manage the requirements Air BP flew in supplemental fuelling materials and equipment. Bladder tanks and Rapid Deployment Fuelling Equipment (RDFE) were also used to ensure an uninterrupted supply to the international military. Following the signing of an agreement with Tirana International Airport in 2009 Air BP will serve the airport until 2025 and made significant investment to support operations, most notably the development of a new fuel farm inside the airport boundary which began operations in 2011.