Sydney Airport: Staff scramble to clear backlog after evacuation

UPDATE at 12:30 PM AEST | STAFF at Sydney Airport are scrambling to clear a backlog of passengers after fears of a fire in the control tower plunged the airport into chaos.

Air traffic controllers were evacuated from the tower about 11:40am AEDT after smoke from a malfunctioning battery pack triggered the fire alarm.

As a result, Air Services Australia said a “full ground stop” was immediately put in place while emergency services responded to the incident.


The area was deemed safe and staff given the all clear to return to the tower shortly before 12:30pm AEDT.

By 1:30pm, Air Services Australia said departures were “running smoothly” with “all restrictions lifted” at the airport.

A number of flights out of Sydney, however, have been cancelled, while several incoming flights have been diverted.

Some arriving flights were forced into a holding pattern above the airport, while others were turned away.

Meanwhile on the ground, passengers spent up to two hours stuck on the tarmac, unable to get off their planes.

Anyone flying in or out of Sydney who is concerned about the status of their flight is urged to contact their airline.

FIRST at 11:20 AM AEST | Flights in and out of Sydney airport have been delayed, after the control tower had to be evacuated.

There have been reports that a fire broke out in the tower, prompting the evacuation, though this has not been confirmed yet.

Emergency services were called to the airport around 11.40am AEDT, with fire fighters reporting that 20 people had to be evacuated out of the control tower.

A passenger on his way to Sydney Airport said the captain told the plane there was smoke in the control tower, and that fire trucks were on scene.

Planes have been forced to circle the airport until departures and arrivals are allowed to resume.

It’s believed some flights may be allowed to land at the moment, because they don’t have enough fuel to keep circling.

PHOTO | Screenshot from Flight Radar 24