Thousands of Jetstar, Tigerair and Virgin passengers were affected by the problem which a spokeswoman described as “an issue with a substation”. It caused a power interruption and “affected back-up power sources,” she said.

The four-and-a-half hour power outage, which began at 8.30am, halted passenger and baggage check-ins as well as security checks.

It was chaos and at one stage Virgin airlines actually advised its passengers to not come to the airport and consider accepting refunds or free flights in the future instead.

“If you are due to travel to or from Sydney airport today and choose not to fly, please be assured you will be able to obtain a refund or free of charge flight change within seven days,” it said.

Sydney Airport apologised for “any inconvenience caused by the power interruption”.

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