The power outage that crippled the busiest airport in the world will be painful for Delta

George Frey/ Getty Images
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport suffered a power outage on Sunday.
  • Delta Air Lines has canceled more than roughly 1,400 flights since Sunday.
  • It will take days for Delta’s network days to recover.

Delta Air Lines is working to get its flight operations back to normal after a massive power outage crippled its home base at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Delta is Hartsfield-Jackson’s single largest tenant and operates more than 1,000 departures a day from the airport.

The airline has already canceled roughly 400 flights on Monday. That’s on top of the nearly 1,000 flights it canceled Sunday.

Even though Atlanta is Delta’s largest base of operations, it will still take a tremendous amount of time and coordination to reposition stranded crews and aircraft into position to operate flights.

The cascading effects of the outage will be felt for days as further delays and cancellations are all but inevitable in Atlanta and Delta’s outposts around the world.

In fact, the final passenger flight of a US-operated Boeing 747 was set to depart on Sunday from Detroit but had to be canceled. According to Delta, it could not assemble the necessary crew to operate the flight.

It took Delta roughly a week to recover from a series of severe storms that rolled through Atlanta in April; forcing it to cancel 4,000 flights. That incident cost the airline $US125 million in lost revenue.

Since then, Delta has instituted new irregular operations protocols aimed at mitigating downhill disruptions to service.

But with the holiday travel season in full swing and airlines already operating near capacity, there will be fewer open seats to accommodate stranded travellers.

Delta is offering a travel waiver that will allow customers affected by the outage to change their reservations free of charge. Other airlines are offering similar waivers. Here are links to waivers from American, United, Southwest, and JetBlue.

The airline has also instituted a temporary stop on travel for unaccompanied minors to or from Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson is the busiest airport in the world and handles more than 104 million passengers a year. The facility went dark around 1 pm on Sunday. Georgia Power, the airport’s utility provider, believes the outage was caused by an underground electrical fire. According to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, the intense fire not only knocked out the airport’s primary power network but also its backup system.

Update: Delta clarified that the crew issues which caused the 747 flight cancellation were unrelated to the outage in Atlanta.

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