AUSTIN (KXAN) — Power was restored to Barbara Jordan Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport just before 8 a.m. Wednesday after travelers were left in the dark for two to three hours that morning.
The airport posted on social media just before 5 a.m. confirming a power outage in the terminal. It said, “airport teams have been dispatched to investigate the cause of the outage.” An AUS spokesperson told KXAN just before 6:30 a.m. backup generators did kick in then.
AUS said flights were previously halted, but as of 9:48 a.m. the ground stop was lifted. KXAN crews inside the terminal said security lines began screening passengers at 7:40 a.m., and AUS officials confirmed this.
Flight delays should still be expected, the airport said, and passengers should check their flight status before heading to AUS.
Southwest Airlines released a statement to KXAN, saying “Due to this morning’s power outage at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Southwest has proactively reduced morning operations at AUS. We have issued a travel advisory for AUS Customers and appreciate their patience as we work to get them to their destinations as quickly as possible.“
Traffic impacts to Highway 71
The Austin Police Department told KXAN around 5:30 a.m. airport police had previously blocked entrances into the airport. Airport roadways were closed temporarily, but in a 9:48 a.m. update, the airport said those roadways had reopened.
Traffic backups collected along Highway 71 because of the closures. Travelers who had flights Wednesday morning were previously being advised not to drive into the airport, an AUS spokesperson said.
KXAN Traffic Anchor Erica Brennes even spotted on TxDOT cameras that some people stuck in traffic were getting out of stopped vehicles on Highway 71 and walking to the airport. Austin Police asked people to stay in their cars until the roadway was cleared.
The Del Valle Independent School District, which is in the area of the airport, said it is rerouting some bus routes around the traffic. There are some delays, and the district is directing parents to use Smart Tag, which will help to provide real-time updates on bus locations.
Austin Energy worked with AUS teams to assess the outage. The utility said all power lines near the airport are underground. It was using fault indicators to help locate where the issue is. In an update, Austin Energy said the outage was caused by “malfunctioning underground equipment.”
The utility said the main outage lasted approximately three-and-a-half hours from 4:33 to 8:03 a.m. Wednesday. KXAN viewers began sending in photos and videos showing the outage around 4:30 a.m.
Past issues at AUS
This is the second issue the airport terminal has experienced within a month.
On Aug. 10, all passengers in Barbara Jordan Terminal had to evacuate due to a falsely-triggered fire alarm. The airport explained then a water main break on the airport apron, or the space where planes are parked as passengers board and deplane, set off the fire alarm. All evacuated passengers had to re-enter to terminal and be rescreened by security.
Passengers on Wednesday morning weren’t forced to evacuate because of the power outage. An AUS spokesperson explained an outage doesn’t necessarily trigger an evacuation; a full evacuation is done when there is a safety concern.
This past Friday was the second-busiest day ever at Austin’s airport as thousands of people traveled for the Labor Day holiday. A total of 34,611 departing passengers were recorded that day, airport officials said.