All Flights Grounded or Diverted as Smoke Seen at Sydney Airport Control Tower

By Melanie Sun

No flights are taking off or landing from Sydney’s airports after emergency services were called to the air traffic control tower amid reports of a fire.

The call came in at around 11:40 a.m. and the tower has since been evacuated. Fire and Rescue NSW who are on the scene said about 20 personnel were inside the building at the time.

“There is a full ground stop in place with no aircraft departing or arriving at this time,” an Airservices Australia spokeswoman said.

The government-owned body also confirmed the reports of smoke on Twitter, “The Sydney Air Traffic Control Tower has been evacuated after smoke was detected.

“There is a full ground stop in place with no aircraft departing or arriving at this time @SydneyAirport.”

People near the airport said that without all the air traffic overhead, things were eerily quiet around Sydney Airport.

At 12:37 p.m., a tweet came through with an update that the smoke situation at the tower was now under control after help from firefighters, and that staff had been cleared to return to the tower.

“We expect to be operational in the next 10 min.,” the tweet said. An earlier tweet said that part of traffic control was already back online to process arrivals, although passengers were told to expect delays. The tweet said that there would still be no departures at this time.

Airservices Australia also clarified that despite the interruptions, the airport was not in lockdown.

Airlines operating in the area have also been posting updates on their Twitter feeds.

Local media 10 daily reported that an overheated short circuit battery had been responsible for the evacuation.

“It got everyone very nervous, but all is well that ends well,” a spokesperson said.