Melbourne airport plunged into darkness

Last updated 16:25 18/07/2012
Melbourne airport

FRUSTRATIONS: Passengers queue through the airport after the power cut.

Melbourne airport
BLOW OUT: Smoke comes from generators after power outage caused wide spread disruption to services at Melbourne Airport.

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Melbourne Airport continues to be plagued by problems after a power outage grounded flights, throwing schedules into disarray and sparking passenger confusion.

The power went out abut 9.20am local time (11.20am NZT) and was back by 10.40am - but a backlog of passengers trying to check in and get through security remains.

The power outage meant the airport's lights went down, security gates were closed and shops were unable to serve customers.

Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said the airport had resumed normal operations by 11.10am, almost two hours after the power outage hit.

Gillett said the airport was now working through a backlog of flights that had been delayed.

''We're settling down. We're all up and running and flights are operating,'' she said this afternoon.

''There are obviously some delays but we're progressively working through those delays and we're doing what we can to get those flights out as soon as we can.''

'A BIT POST-APOCALYPTIC' 

Virgin passenger Laura Hamilton said the security gates were closed for about 30 minutes, before security staff began searching bags manually.

She said there was an audible groan from people around her when the lights went down, which stayed off for about an hour.

''It's pretty frustrating. People are just sitting around and looking p----- off. Everyone has basically given up on their day,'' said Hamilton, a Fairfax employee.

Hamilton said she and her partner, Stu, were scheduled to fly to Brisbane at 10am but had been told their flight would not leave until the afternoon.

A Virgin spokeswoman said normal services had resumed, but said passengers scheduled on flights for the rest of the day could expect ''some minor delays'' as the airline worked through a backlog.

Liam McCallum, of Adelaide, said the power was out for at least an hour. His flight to Adelaide was due to depart at 9am, but he has been told it will now leave at 8pm tonight - 11 hours late.

"All the lights went off and after venturing around I think they powered it down more, until there was just nothing on at all. No screens, no nothing," he said.

"I went to purchase something and the shop had no power and the traffic lights were down so police were redirecting traffic.

"Everything just kind of shut down at once. It was very gloomy, it was a bit post-apocalyptic.

"There were dark figures everywhere walking around and big queues."

Affected passengers and visitors took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

Seb Hussey reported that he was stuck in the airport carpark due to the power outage.

"I'm currently stuck in @Melair (Melbourne Airport) Carpark cos all power just went out! WHAT TO DO!!!," he tweeted.

Other Twitter users said passengers were stuck in aerobridges linking planes to the terminal due to the outage.

'MINOR' POWER DELAYS 

A Jetstar spokesman said the airline had experienced minor power delays, although normal service had been restored.

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''There are minor delays at check-in. Back-up power has kicked in and all flights are operating normally,'' he said.

Qantas said its passengers were not affected.

''From a Qantas perspective it's not impacting our services at this stage. We've got back-up power so that's allowing us to continue our operations,'' a Qantas spokeswoman said.

It is believed the power outage is affecting Customs operations and is believed to have sent three of the four terminals at the site into darkness.

Australian Customs confirmed passengers were being delayed while going through to the boarding gates.

A Customs spokeswoman said there were delays processing passengers both arriving on flights and scheduled to leave, as processing had to be done manually.

Melbourne Airport tweeted about 10.20am that power was gradually being restored, but that there would be delays "as services recover".

Forty minutes later, the airport tweeted: "We are working through delayed flights as quickly as we can. Thanks for your patience."

- The Age and AAP

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