Manchester Airport power cut: what went wrong?

A sudden power cut followed by a surge of returning electricity early this morning - possibly more than once - lays behind a day of travel chaos at Manchester Airport.

It has meant the travel plans of thousands of passengers were thrown into turmoil because of the outage, which hit key baggage and security systems in Terminals 1 and 2

All flights out of those terminals were cancelled 'until further notice' with passengers told to stay away from both terminals after the outage.

READ MORE: Man killed in horror motorbike crash on major road

Although the airport's back-up generator kicked in when the main system went down, the situation was complicated by power cutting out multiple times and then resuming. Like re-booting a computer that hasn't been turned off properly, getting back to normal has proved difficult.

Power has since been restored but baggage and security systems are continuing to be affected. Airport officials were hoping that all systems would be working as normal by this evening although the knock-on effects could still be felt by airlines tomorrow. Passengers awaiting flights tonight are being urged to check with their airlines before turning up.

The airport is the size of a small town and effectively has its own power supply, separate from the power that feeds surrounding areas like Wythenshawe and Styal.

This morning, that supply failed but then resumed. The surge of returning power - which airport officials may have occurred more than once - damaged physical infrastructure. The combination of a power cut and damaged infrastructure complicated engineers' efforts to get the airport back up and running.

One key issue was that the power cut affected baggage handling and - more importantly - security, and unlike other areas of airport operation, there was no quick way to bypass the issue.

None of which is any consolation to the thousands of people whose holiday and travel plans were thrown into turmoil.

There has been mayhem at Manchester Airport today
There was mayhem at Manchester Airport today -Credit:@BobbiHadgraft

An investigation into precisely why the power cut happened in the first place is underway, but meanwhile damaged kit has been replaced and airport systems are expected to return to normal imminently, say officials.

Chris Woodroofe, Manchester Airport's managing director, said there had been "a big power spike" in the airport's electrical system due to "a failure".

"That's damaged some really key equipment for our departure security and our departures baggage systems," he added.

He did not reveal the cause of the power failure but said he expected the airport to return to "normal operations" tomorrow.

The issue has left thousands of people facing delays and cancellations. In an update this lunchtime, the airport announced that all flights from Terminals 1 and 2 were being cancelled "until further notice".

More than 100 flights were due to depart from the airport today.

Passengers flying via Terminal 3 should go to the airport as normal "unless advised otherwise by their airline", an airport spokesperson said.

Travellers have taken to social media to post images of major queues and shared their frustration with the airport. Some have reported instances where some baggage was not on flights.

An image shared with the Manchester Evening News showed a mass of suitcases left inside one of the terminals.

Airline easyJet, which operates flights from terminal one, said there were “very long queues” for security and disruption to hold baggage processing, meaning passengers could board flights only with cabin luggage.

Meanwhile, a number of arriving flights have been diverted to other airports.