Power failure shuts down Atlanta airport for almost 11 hours
ONE OF THE heaviest travel weeks of the year began with the cancellation of more than 1 000 flights on Sunday at the world’s busiest airport, in Atlanta, where a power outage that lasted nearly 11 hours left passengers stranded in darkened terminals or in aircraft idling on tarmacs.
The early afternoon outage paralysed operations at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport before power was finally restored at 11.45pm on Sunday for flight operations, wreaking havoc on holiday travel plans for thousands of people hit by airline cancellations extending into yesterday.
Delta said it was cancelling about 300 flights yesterday, on top of the 900 Sunday cancellations, as a result of the Atlanta outage. United Air Lines also warned on social media that travel yesterday may be affected.
The incident on Sunday led the Federal Aviation Administration to ground flights bound for Atlanta. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines were also among the major carriers that suspended operations at the airport on Sunday. Southwest canceled 70 departures on Sunday.
Georgia Power, the utility that provides electricity to the sprawling airport, said the failure was linked to a fire in an underground facility that damaged substations serving Hartsfield. The blaze, possibly started when a piece of gear failed, damaged access to a backup system, the company said.
All passengers had safely disembarked from aircraft by about 10pm, or nine hours after the outage began, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed passengers huddled in partial darkness inside crowded terminals. Some said they sat on planes for hours. Some stranded passengers found lodging in local hotels. – Reuters