According to Guardian UK, a sudden power outage brought the world’s busiest airport to a standstill on Sunday, grounding more than 1,000 flights in the US just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush.
Passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta were left in the dark when the lights suddenly went out at about 1pm. All outgoing flights were halted, and arriving planes were held at point of departure. International flights were being diverted, officials said.
The airport said a fire had caused “extensive damage” to the complex’s electrical systems. Fire crews doused the flames and repair crews from Georgia Power managed to restore power to all areas after about 11 hours but the incident is expected to wreak havoc on the holiday travel plans of thousands.
The cause of the outage is unknown and Georgia Power said such outages were “very rare”.
Delta, with its biggest hub operation in Atlanta, was the airline hardest hit. By Sunday evening, it had already cancelled 900 Sunday flights and another 300 on Monday, nearly all of them in Atlanta, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Robert Mann, an aviation consultant and former American Airlines executive, said it would probably be Tuesday before Delta’s operations in Atlanta returned to normal, and for passengers “it could be most of the week” because there weren’t many open seats on other flights in the last week before Christmas. “Tomorrow is going to be a long and difficult day for everybody,” Mann said.
When flights at Atlanta were grounded for most of one day in April, it took Delta five days and about 4,000 cancelled flights before it fully recovered.
At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were cancelled, an airline spokesman said in an email. United Airlines and JetBlue Airways were among carriers reporting delays or cancellations.
Passengers stranded and unable to fly were being taken to the Georgia International Convention Centre for the night.
Hartsfield-Jackson, which serves 104 million passengers a year, is the world’s busiest airport, a distinction it has held since 1998. The airport serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website. Nearly 2,500 planes arrive and depart each day.