Between potential strikes, staffing shortages and massive flight cancellations, passengers in commercial aviation has never been more chaotic. Earlier this year, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was on the verge of ran out of jet fuel. The airport serving the state capital of Texas suffered a three-hour blackout today.
The outage began at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport early Wednesday morning after 4:30 am. The critical problem arose due to a malfunction of underground equipment, according to American statesman of Austin. The outage required a ground stop, stopping all inbound and outbound flights at 5am. The airport has also closed roads to its terminal to prevent the situation from getting worse as more passengers enter the building.
The passenger spoke about his experience in the terminal American statesman of Austin:
“Thousands of people were in pitch darkness. You had a couple of battery operated blue signs and from time to time the people who worked at the terminal would walk by with a flashlight. But other than that, it was just quiet, and an alarm rang in the distance.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could not screen passengers without an internet connection, and those in line waited indefinitely. Those who had already passed through the TSA checkpoint were stuck there. Restaurants in the terminal handed out free food to people in need. However, the airport was not completely de-energized. The terminal has emergency generators that had to be turned on manually.
Airport spokesman Sam Haynes said:
“The systems (driven by generators) include entrance and exit lighting to help staff and passengers see in the dark, fire detection and alarms, a ceiling-mounted public address system, and security features. Since this power outage affected the entire airport campus, the generators had to be turned on manually, which is the time between turning off the lights and turning on the auxiliary lights again.”
The repair crew fixed the problem and restored power at 8:00 am, with the ground stop removed and the roads reopening nearly two hours later. According to Flight Aware90 flights to or from Austin-Bergstrom were canceled and another 110 flights delayed. It is expected that the flight schedule at the airport will return to normal only tomorrow.