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By Ana Nicolaci da Costa
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Thousands of airline passengers faced cancelled flights and lengthy delays in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Monday after a burst oil pipeline triggered a shortage of jet fuel.
Auckland Airport said 14 flights were cancelled, including one international flight, while Air New Zealand said about 2,000 customers would be affected after it cancelled seven flights in and out of the city.
The disruption was expected to last for about a week and airlines said they would look at refuelling in other cities domestically, or at Pacific and Australian airports to ensure long-haul services could continue.
As well as Air New Zealand, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Emirates all said on their websites that some flights had been affected by the fuel shortage.
The disruption followed a leak in a supply pipeline owned by New Zealand Refining Co Ltd that forced it to be closed for repairs. The pipeline was expected to be working at 70 percent of its full capacity by Sept. 24-26, a spokesman said.
The New Zealand government, which faces an election on Saturday, noted that the pipeline was privately owned and urged the parties involved to look at contingency plans to stop such incidents in the future.
"I am also confident that between the resources of Air New Zealand, the government, the other airlines, the fuel suppliers, they will get it fixed as quickly as possible and get things going," Prime Minister Bill English told local media.
"They need to go back and look at (the idea of) the second pipeline. The other alternative that they have been examining more recently, I understand, is significantly greater storage at the airport."
Air New Zealand shares fell 3.1 percent by early afternoon, while New Zealand Refing Co was down 2.8 percent.
(Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; Additional Reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore and Rushil Dutta and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Richard Pullin)