Passengers at the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta are expecting another day of disruptions after a power failure crippled operations on Sunday and canceled more than 1000 flights.
The major operator at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Delta Air Lines, cancelled 900 flights Sunday and said another 300 cancellations were “on the books” for Monday.
Most of these would be early morning, inbound flights to Atlanta to give the operation there an opportunity to more quickly return to normal, it said.
“Delta’s flight schedule in Atlanta is expected to return to normal by Monday afternoon,’’ Delta said on its website Sunday. “Delta is working hard to reaccommodate customers.”
Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport and typically handles about 275,000 passengers a day. The power outage came as traffic is building up to in the busy holiday period.
Power was resumed after almost 11 hours on late Sunday and the fault was traced to a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility.
The intensity of the fire damaged two substations serving the airport, including the back-up facility.
“We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger and we are doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away,” Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed told reporters.
The blackout prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to declare a ground stop at the airport, preventing Atlanta-bound flights from taking off or those already en-route to be diverted.
About 30,000 people in the terminal were affected by the outage and local authorities opened a convention center to accommodate people stranded overnight.
AIrport authorities said they were delivering more than 5000 meals to passengers and they were offering free parking to affected passengers until 8am.
CNN reported that passengers were left stranded in planes on the tarmac for up to seven hours.
One of those who faced a marathon wait was CNN reporter Betsy Klein, who described passengers as exceedingly patient and who praised the crew and pilots.
“But we have also all now been on this full @Delta plane since we boarded at 11:45 am and there hasn’t been food or water since late afternoon,’’ she said on Twitter.
Klein reported that crew on her plane said 92 aircraft were stuck on the tarmac at one point and some ran out of fuel.