Power Outage at Schiphol Airport Causes Massive Flight Delays

April 30, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Air travel can be stressful even if everything runs smoothly, because travelers have to be prepared for the unexpected.  Traffic issues, flight delays, and airport congestion are the typical issues – along with the occasional lost luggage. Power outages, however, magnify these issues and negate even the most effective planning.

That’s what happened when a complete overnight power outage at Amsterdam’ Schiphol airport forced officials to temporarily shut down the airport.  The outage happened between midnight and 1:00am local time, and while that’s not a busy period for most airports, Schiphol is Europe’s third busiest and had plenty of travelers with early morning or delayed overnight flights waiting to check in or depart, who were evacuated from their terminals for safety and security reasons. 

Roads and rail lines into the airport were also shut down, once the main halls became overcrowded with waiting passengers.  In fact, shortly after 4:00am, authorities recommended passengers leave the airport until systems back online and check-in and other procedures were operational.  All inbound flights were delayed until 9:00am, with only a limited number of planes being allowed to land between 9:00-11:00am. 

The shutdown of all travel into the area created massive backups as well, with a number of travelers opting to walk to the airport on what was already expected to be an extremely busy travel day due to Friday’s public holiday, King’s Day.  Even when travelers reached the airport, they were faced with lengthy delays with checking in, rebooking flights, and luggage services.

Fortunately, all systems and services were back online Sunday morning, though delays persisted through the day. 

Despite the inconveniences and delays, the situation could have been much worse – and it could be at any business.  Power outages can pose a major threat to networks and systems, if they’re not properly protected.  Even small surges can damage sensitive circuitry, causing servers, switches, storage, and other network equipment to fail.  Any critical technology should be connected to a power protection system to ensure continuity when power is restored. 

Larger capacity UPS systems can provide extended runtime backup power, allowing operations to continue.  Businesses with large power requirements, of course, will require backup generators to provide longer term functional capacity.  But, power protection systems help regulate voltage and protect equipment when outages occur, when power is restored, and during the switch from line to backup power.

Edited by Erik Linask