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.
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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.
UPDATE 1:19pm – We are fully back to operations at Sydney Tower. Departures are running smoothly. All restrictions lifted. @SydneyAirport
— AirservicesAustralia (@AirservicesNews) March 29, 2019
Air traffic control operations have resumed in Sydney, however delays are expected for the remainder of the day. Please check with your airline for flight status. https://t.co/f47LhehLNg
— Gold Coast Airport (@gcairport) March 29, 2019
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.
Sitting on plane, captain says “smoke in @SydneyAirport control tower, fire trucks on scene “. Hope everyone is ok but may mean a slow trip home
— Tim Napier (@jstabloodyfarmr) March 29, 2019
Apparently they are now allowing plans to land but only because they are running out of fuel.
Tower still isn’t open yet. #sydneyairport
— Tired but still gay (@Andidrathernot1) March 29, 2019