ORANJESTAD – The island-wide blackout that transpired in Aruba yesterday created a series of events at Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix (AUA Airport).
Closure and restart of airport operations
At around 2 pm yesterday, because of the power outage, the power supply at the airport was also lost. The airport generators and the backup system did not take over the power supply as it should be, causing the airport to remain without power until 3 pm. Aruba Airport Authority N.V. (AAA) activated the AAA crisis team and implemented the applicable emergency procedures. To prevent the influx of more arriving and departing passengers the airport and runway were closed at 2.15 pm and re-opened at 3 pm as the power was restored. As a result, 5 aircraft had diverted to other airports (Curaçao and Santo Domingo). All these 5 flights that were inbound at the time of the power outage eventually arrived and thereafter also departed again from AUA Airport. Only 1 US-bound flight was canceled yesterday and departed this morning.
Yesterday, at 2.20 pm, AAA decided to evacuate the passengers present within the airport’s terminal restricted areas to the landside areas. 700 – 1000 passengers were safely and smoothly evacuated, without any incidents for imminent safety reasons. The crisis organization worked as per the procedures that are in place and the good cooperation received from all involved on all fronts was invaluable in making this evacuation as smooth as possible.
The safety of the passengers, staff, and airport users is and will always be the airport’s number one priority. Without electrical power, the airport terminal had insufficient lighting to guarantee the safety of passengers and other airport users/concessionaires, an inability to monitor a large number of passengers via CCTV, and trip/slip hazards due to condensation that kicks in shortly after air conditioning turns off, inability to adequately screen passengers and luggage, health hazards due to inability to flush toilets/wash hands. And, in case of fire, inability to guarantee that the fire suppression system would function. Based on these risks, AAA decided to evacuate the terminal.
Full load generator test
The 6 generators at AUA Airport are tested and maintained regularly, as per manufacturer recommendation. AAA also has service level agreements in place with the expert maintenance companies providing that service. There were no indications given during the latest tests that these would not kick in during a power failure.
Today, Friday, June 10 at 9 pm a full load generator test will be carried out in a controlled environment and in the presence of experts (internal and external, including Elmar and other service providers). The power of the 4 transformers in the Utility Building will be shut down by Elmar one by one, and the several parts of the backup system will be monitored and validated for proper action/reaction. The terminal will be closed at that time and will therefore close two hours earlier than on normal days (9 pm instead of 11 pm). All emergency service aircraft operators and service providers have been informed of this closure. Once the cause has been identified, AAA will initiate the corresponding solution. AAA’s highest priority is determining the cause and subsequently implementing a solution. AAA will update the community of Aruba further as soon as these are clearly known.
AAA sincerely apologizes to each airline, the passengers, the airport partners, and the airport community that were adversely affected by yesterday’s events.