A power failure at Sydney Airport in late June has sparked criticism from many passengers for the ensuing delays and cancellations, and has highlighted the importance of contingency planning for large venues whose operations rely heavily on power. As SBS television reported, the failure became apparent at 9am on a Friday morning as check-in and baggage screening and air-conditioning systems failed. The failure had flow-on effects in greater Sydney, with traffic delays leading to and from the airport, as well as nationally as planes were instructed not to land at the terminal due to non-functional gangways.

All airlines operating from Terminal 2 were affected, namely, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Rex and Tiger.  In response to the incident Virgin made efforts to compensate the increasingly expanding crowd of stranded passengers for their discomfort with somewhat ironically branded ‘Neverfail’ water bottles.

Virgin also brought in extra staff for the day to provide information to stranded passengers.

However, according to news.com.au, Virgin passengers were told by staff to wait for a flight that had already departed; which was discovered through other passengers rather than official means, causing more confusion and frustration.

Clear communications during crisis are important to keep customers informed, and can make an inconvenient incident easier to bear.

Back-up power generators, emergency lighting, a crisis management plan and emergency plans for responding to utility failures, can prevent a momentary failure of utilities from becoming a front-page news item causing brand damage.