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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Major power outage disrupts operations at Manchester Airport

The outage led to the cancellation of over 100 flights, affecting thousands of passengers and causing significant delays and diversions.

Manchester Airport, the third-busiest airport in the United Kingdom, faced severe disruptions on Sunday due to a major power outage. The outage led to the cancellation of over 100 flights, affecting thousands of passengers and causing significant delays and diversions.

Scope of the Disruption

The power cut occurred early Sunday morning and impacted the airport’s security and baggage systems, leading to the cancellation of approximately 20% of all outgoing and incoming flights. Initially, aviation analytics firm Cirium reported that 66 departures and 50 inbound flights were cancelled, with easyJet experiencing the largest number of cancellations.

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Manchester Airports Group, which also operates London Stansted and East Midlands airports, confirmed that the power cut was isolated to Manchester Airport, debunking earlier assumptions that a wider area was affected. Chris Woodroofe, the airport’s managing director, explained that a fault with a cable caused a power surge, which in turn disrupted key equipment, essentially “ripping the plug out of your computer without shutting it down properly.”

Passenger Impact and Reactions

Passengers faced considerable challenges as a result of the outage. Those traveling from Terminals 1 and 2 were advised to stay away from the airport as all flights from these terminals were cancelled until further notice. Terminal 3 operations remained largely unaffected. Many passengers already at the airport encountered long queues and significant delays. Images of the chaos showed massive lines of people waiting for updates and assistance.

Travellers took to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to express their frustration and share their experiences. Some passengers were left waiting for their luggage for hours, while others were stuck on planes. Hayden Lewis, one of the affected passengers, detailed his ordeal of waiting at Manchester Airport for five hours before his flight to Skiathos was cancelled. He eventually made his way to Birmingham Airport with the help of his father, hoping to reach his destination.

Airline Responses

Airlines struggled to manage the fallout from the power cut. Jet2 announced that it had to cancel dozens of flights and was unable to load bags onto planes due to the inoperable baggage system. EasyJet warned passengers of long security queues and allowed only cabin bags on board. Both airlines, along with others, worked to reschedule flights and manage the backlog of affected passengers.

Several inbound flights were diverted to other airports, including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Birmingham. A Singapore Airlines flight from Houston and an Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi were among those redirected.

Airport’s Apology and Restoration Efforts

Chris Woodroofe issued a public apology, expressing his sincere regrets for the inconvenience caused to passengers. He explained that the power outage was due to a significant power spike in the airport’s electrical systems, which occurred in the middle of the night. Engineers quickly worked to fix the fault, and by Sunday afternoon, the airport began resuming operations.

Despite the resumption of flights, passengers faced continued uncertainty, with some flights still cancelled and others experiencing delays. Woodroofe assured that an investigation would take place to prevent future occurrences and hoped for normal operations to resume by Monday.

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The disruption at Manchester Airport is part of a broader trend of technical and operational challenges facing the UK’s travel industry. Last month, a nationwide outage of immigration e-gates caused significant delays, and last year, a major air traffic control fault led to one of the worst disruptions in recent years.