Delta flights resume after power outage strands passengers

About 300 flights cancelled

Delta airline name tags are seen at Delta terminal in JFK Airport in New York, July 30, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott/File Photo

(Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc’s flights gradually began taking off again on Monday after a power outage hit its computer systems, grounding planes and stranding passengers of one of the world’s largest carriers at airports around the globe.

The U.S. airline said the power outage began at about 1:30 a.m. CDT in Atlanta and that customers should expect “large-scale” cancellations.

Delta airline name tags are seen at Delta terminal in JFK Airport in New York, July 30, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott/File Photo
Delta airline name tags are seen at Delta terminal in JFK Airport in New York. REUTERS/Joshua Lott/File Photo

Delta said in an update this morning that a halt on departures had been lifted, and some flights were resuming, although customers should expect delays and cancellations.

The company said via Twitter that it had canceled about 300 flights due to the power outage.

The problems also meant flight information was not showing correctly on Delta’s website or on airport information boards, and this could also take time to resolve, the carrier said in the latest update.

According to website Flightradar24, some of the first flights to take off were from Amsterdam to the United States, while a flight from Phoenix to Atlanta was among the first to depart from a U.S. airport.

General Mitchell International Airport Spokeswoman Pat Rowe said flights had resumed arriving to and departing from the airport this morning.

As of 12 p.m., two Delta flights had departed from Mitchell International, according to the airport’s online flight tracking system. Seven Delta departures were as “delayed” and 10 as “on time.” One flight to Milwaukee from New York was cancelled and several arrivals from Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis have been delayed.

Delta operates 5,000 departures a day and is a member of the SkyTeam alliance alongside airlines including Air France-KLM.

It also partners for transatlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic, which said its flights were operating normally but cautioned that passengers should check tickets in case their flight was due to be operated by Delta as part of a code-share agreement.

Delta said passengers booked for travel Aug. 8-12 would be entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed.

In airports around the world, passengers stuck in check-in queues or on planes waiting to depart took to Twitter to share photos and frustration at the delays, as well as to ask how a major airline could be grounded by a power cut.

A Delta spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about backup systems.

The glitch follows several high-profile computer problems faced by U.S. airlines in the past year.

Southwest Airlines had to halt departures last month after a technical outage, while American Airlines had to suspend flights from three of its hubs last September after technical problems.

Industry consultants say airlines face an increasing risk from computer disruptions as they automate more of their operations, distribute boarding passes on smartphones and fit their planes with Wi-Fi.

A failed piece of Delta Air Lines equipment led to the power outage that crippled the carrier’s computer system, a spokesman for power utility Georgia Power told Reuters.

“It was a failure of Delta equipment,” Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said, adding, “there wasn’t an area power outage” and the Delta problem did not affect other power customers.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sarah Young in London and Alwyn Scott in New York)

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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