Atlanta airport returning to normal from power failure. Delta cancelled over 1,000 flights.

Delta is generally the most reliable of the North American carriers.  Over the past few years, they have justifiably built up an excellent reputation for running to time and having very few cancellations.

However it seems as though they have been getting a bit cocky.  A few days ago, I read this article where their COO Gil West claimed at an investor day presentation that:

Sunday started badly with them having to cancel their final 747 departure from Detroit due to one of the flight deck crew calling in sick.

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It was rescheduled for the following day.

However a few hours later there was a major incident at Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport and Delta’s largest hub.

The power went out to the entire airport.

Thankfully this didn’t include any of the critical infrastructure such as tower or air traffic control, but did affect all of the terminal buildings.

The cause isn’t yet known, however there are two competing rumours; firstly that construction workers accidentally cut the feed and secondly that there was a fire in the electrical switch room.

Delta said in press release:

Delta cancelled about 300 flights today [Monday 18th December] as it works to recover from a power outage at the Atlanta airport that shut down the facility for much of Sunday.

Nearly 1,000 Delta flights were cancelled on Sunday following the power outage, which impacted all airlines operating in Atlanta. Power has been restored.

“Only” cancelling 300 flights the day after is a pretty impressive record for what was a total shutdown of the busiest airport in the world for some twelve hours.  However some two days on, Atlanta is still a mess.  If you’ve got a flight with any airlines to Atlanta, it may be best to reschedule it.  If you’re flying Delta, make sure your details are up to date as there may well be changes to your flight.

Clearly, there are major questions to be asked of the infrastructure in place at the airport, but also more widely as to the various contingency plans but in place by the airlines, by the airports and the FAA.  I’m sure more will emerge over the next few days.


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