Perth Airport is in chaos after desperately trying to recover from a total blackout because of the severe storms crossing the State.
Flights were up and running but there was a huge backlog with passengers attempting to get through security.
Hundreds of people in high-vis were at Terminal 2 as regional flights were taking off. The line to get through to security was almost out the door as people raced to make their flight on time.
Terminal 1 was less chaotic, almost a ghost town in comparison, as several flights were still cancelled.
An airport spokeswoman said the terminals were “fully operational” as of 10pm last night but the flow-on effects of the impact could still be felt.
Perth Airport has announced a thorough review of its backup power systems in light of the power disruption.
While the backup power for the critical runways switched on, terminals were thrown into disarray chaos as backup power failed to come on.
Chief executive Kevin Brown said the review would start immediately to understand why parts of the back-up generation system did not deploy.
“We apologize for the inconvenience the power outage caused to passengers and we thank them for their patience and understanding that we were dealing with a unique and challenging weather event,” he said.
“The back-up generation system for critical safety systems such as the runway lighting worked as intended, meaning that aircraft could continue to land safely throughout the event.
“Other parts of the back-up generation system that provide power to the terminals did not work as intended.
“We need to understand why that happened.
Thousands of passengers were disrupted overnight with dozens of flights delayed or cancelled.
The airport told its passengers to go home and declared all flights were canceled due to power outages “out of their control”, but by 8pm on Tuesday, changed its mind.
“With critical services back online, Perth Airport is now able to process some passengers through the outbound security processes,” a statement said.
“However it will take some time to clear the backlog of delayed services.”
By 10pm, the airport said it was working to activate its systems across its terminals in order to become fully-operational following delays and cancellations across the airline networks.
Passengers were warned some airlines could still decide to cancel and reschedule flights. “We ask passengers for their continued patience as our team and our airline partners work to get flights underway,” the airport said.
Travelers were left sitting in the dark with only torches to light their way.
Severe storms hitting Perth shut all the power down at the airport in what some experienced staff have never seen before.
Disgruntled passengers battled with freshly unloaded luggage as torrential wind and rain pelted them as they left the airport to board taxis.
Perth Airport announced the news about 5.15pm, warning that a power outage would result in lengthy delays for the next two hours.
The airport apologized to passengers, some of whom are understood to be stranded at other airports because they’re unable to land in Perth.
“The safety of everyone who works in or is traveling through our airport remains our highest priority,” the airport said.
“We apologize to our passengers and customers for any inconvenience.”
Perth Airport said the decision to cancel flights earlier in the evening was made based on the advice of Western Power.
“Perth Airport has made the decision to delay all outbound services currently scheduled to depart before 7.30pm,” the statement said.
“All enroute inbound flights will be able to arrive safely. All scheduled flights into Perth which have not yet departed will be delayed until further notice.”
Hundreds of people were still crowding around baggage carousels at 7.30pm waiting for luggage to be unloaded from aircrafts.
Passengers in the Qantas terminal were reminded to stay patient while a “technical issue” prevented people from rebooking flights, as staff handed out water and chips to affected travellers.
A team in Sydney is currently working to “uncheck” passengers so flights can be rebooked. “Please be patient and go home, rebook from home as I’ve been advised delays could take up to another two hours,” staff announced.
Qantas Passengers Angela and Han Nguyen hoped to be on a flight to Sydney for a three-day work event.
Ms Nguyen, who is pregnant, said at about 3pm they were aware of flight delays.
“We were Sitting in the lounge upstairs getting notifications from staff that it was out of their control and they had no idea what was happening,” she said.
“Staff working for 20 years told us they’d seen nothing like this.”
While “disappointed”, the couple said they were glad they could return to their Attadale home.
The lights came back on shortly before 7pm.
Passengers were told to leave as soon as their bags were collected and Perth visitors were told to find their own accommodation. Car park shelters were packed, as people waited to be picked up by transport services.
Melbourne woman Caren Vidler said she had no idea what to do as she frantically tried to find a bed for the night.
She was on her way to London when she was stopped at immigration and told her flight was cancelled.
“I’m going to watch some friends, who are divers, compete in the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“I’ll be gutted if I can’t watch them, this was the whole purpose of my trip.”
“I’ve never experienced this before, I don’t know anyone in Perth…I’m going to need a bed for the night.”
Western Power says emergency crews are working hard in difficult conditions to restore power across Perth.
“Damaging and destructive winds associated with the front have thrown debris, including tree branches, into the network, damaging equipment and bringing down powerlines,” a spokesperson said.
“Our priority during the storm is responding to reported hazards to ensure the safety of the community and our crews.
“Our network operations team is working to isolate damaged parts of the network and back feed where possible to restore power where it is safe to do so.”
It comes as Perth braces for more damaging winds set to smash the State after thousands were left without power and properties damaged overnight.
On Tuesday night, 11,000 homes in Perth and the South West remained without power.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for Goldfields, Eucla, Lower West, South West, South Coastal, South East Coastal, Great Southern, Central Wheat Belt and parts of Gascoyne, South Interior and Central West districts.
A strong wind warning is also in place for Melville Waters and the Gascoyne Coast.
These winds are forecast to continue through to dawn on Wednesday and the Bureau has warned that wind likes may cause damage to homes and property, particularly along the coast and nearby inland, becoming more isolated further inland.