23 Nov 2018

Sydney Airport chaos after wild winds force two runways to close

3:06 pm on 23 November 2018

Sydney and Melbourne flights to Auckland are facing delays after dangerous winds stranded thousands of passengers in Australia.

Passengers wait for a delayed flight at Sydney Airport.

Photo: 123rf/Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye

Sydney Airport said domestic and international flights would be delayed and two of the three runways would close because of strong winds.

Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Thai airline flights this afternoon from Sydney and Melbourne to Auckland are facing delays. One Jetstar flight from Sydney to Auckland has also been cancelled.

A Sydney Airport spokesperson said passengers should contact their airline for more information.

Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas said the strong westerly winds in Sydney as well as storms in Melbourne were affecting all airlines.

In a statement, Qantas said it would advise passengers if there were changes to flights.

Some passengers took to social media to vent their frustrations, complaining of a lack of communication from the airlines.

However Sydney Airport said they had been making regular updates over the public announcement system in the terminals.

One passenger, Lennete, said she had been waiting at the airport for a flight to Brisbane for more than two hours.

"It's chaos," she said.

"[But] it's out of my control. There's nothing anybody can do about it, the weather is the weather."

Other passengers who spoke to the ABC said they had been advised replacement flights might not be available for days.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a gale warning for the Sydney coast and strong winds are expected to continue throughout the day.

A wind gust of 69km/h was recorded at Sydney Airport this morning - the strongest gust so far for the day.

Passengers sleep at terminal

Passengers on a Rex Airlines' plane were forced to sleep in a Kingsford Smith terminal on Thursday night when their flight was cancelled.

Gayle Clayton had surgery hours before the scheduled flight and took shelter with a group of 18 people inside the international terminal as the domestic terminal closed for the evening.

She said Rex Airlines did not offer any alternative accommodation.

She was she was "appalled" with the lack of support.

"I'm disgusted, absolutely disgusted - not even a coffee voucher, nothing," she said.

Rex Airlines has been contacted for comment.

A damaging wind warning has been issued for areas across parts of NSW, including the Central Tablelands, Illawarra, and the south coast.

"The most dangerous area to keep an eye out for is in the warning area (and) parts of the ACT and the Snowy Mountains," Bureau of Meteorology duty inspector Jordan Notara said.

The State Emergency Service said more than 470 people had called for help this morning across the state.

More than half of those calls came from the Sydney metro region.