Chaos at Auckland International Airport after fire and evacuation

Passengers were also stranded outside the entrances to the Auckland International Airport on Saturday evening.
LAINE MOGER/STUFFPassengers were also stranded outside the entrances to the Auckland International Airport on Saturday evening.

The airport is preparing to allow passengers to re-enter evacuated areas, following hours of chaos which eyewitnesses claim left thousands of passengers disrupted.

The airport is currently working to clean up the arrivals baggage hall in the international terminal, which flooded because of the sprinklers.

Dozens of passengers have contacted Stuff with complaints about the evacuation process. Many complained no information had been given to people, and some passengers claim they were threatened with a $1000 fine for taking videos and using their phones.

“Whoever is responsible for this debacle deserves a kick up the backside,” one frustrated passenger told Stuff.

Passengers were frustrated as a fire results in "chaos" at Auckland International Airport.
SUPPLIEDPassengers were frustrated as a fire results in “chaos” at Auckland International Airport.

“No information just this ongoing evacuation alarm, but no evacuations happening, more importantly, no information being passed on to us.”

One traveller said she was evacuated from “the wrong side of customs” and was then forced to “wait in the middle of tarmac with no water or toilets and absolutely no communication from the airport at all.” 

She said the only information was coming from external news sites or Twitter.

“We’ve waited for 50 minutes at passport control, just hearing: ‘Attention, please! You may be required to evacuate the area you’re in. Please await further instructions’,” another passenger said.

An Israeli traveller who was heading home to Tel Aviv on Wednesday said her flight from Sydney landed at 6pm on Sunday. She said they had been standing up since they came into Auckland.

“We were standing because there is no where to sit but the floor. Some older people look exhausted beyond measure. This is just the icing on the cake!”

Delayed travellers told Stuff they felt they had not been taken care of. One said: “To sum up my experience: I have been kept in customs for near on four hours with an alarm that sounded every 10 seconds. Why they didn’t decide to turn it off earlier I don’t know. It took them three hours to address the situation over a loud speaker.”

“I was just told if you need to use the toilets to catch a taxi to Countdown,” one passenger told Stuff.

“After all this time we are still milling around in arrivals … cannot leave, kids getting restless. Does not seem to be anybody in charge,” another said.

“Send food,” another added in jest.

Earlier, an airport spokesperson confirmed a fire began in an air conditioning vent but was extinguished by the sprinkler system.

Because of the fire, the international check-in area and the arrival baggage hall were evacuated. 

The airport’s emergency services team is on site doing an assessment. 

A second alert was triggered just after 7pm. Emergency services were completing a thorough check on the air-conditioning unit.

Auckland Airport said in a tweet: “The International check-in area and International Arrivals, Baggage Hall, are still in evacuation.”

“We are awaiting approval from the Emergency Services crew before we can allow everyone back into the evacuated areas. Thank you for your patience.”

Fire and emergency has been contacted.

Travellers and guests have been evacuated from several areas of Auckland Airport following a fire. (File photo)
BEVAN READ/STUFFTravellers and guests have been evacuated from several areas of Auckland Airport following a fire. (File photo)

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