The lights flickered on shortly before midnight, after an exhausting day for travellers, that had left thousands stranded in dark terminals and on planes sitting on the tarmac. A ground stop in Atlanta disrupted air travel across the United States and led to cancellations of more than 1,000 flights in and out of the airport.
Shortly after power came back, some passengers lined up at security screening, hoping to beat the crowds as the TSA checkpoints re-opened at 3:30 a.m. The airport could see a logjam of passengers and delays as more than 400 flights have been cancelled Monday.
The outage, which affected all airport operations, started with a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said. The electrical fire’s intensity damaged two substations serving the airport, including the airport’s “redundant system” that should have provided backup power, Reed said.
Atlanta airport outage complicates insanely busy holiday travel
Atlanta is the heart of the US air transport system, and the disruption led to 1,180 flight cancellations to and from the airport Sunday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
Delta, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, canceled 300 flights Monday, most of which are morning, inbound flights to Hartsfield-Jackson. Delta tweeted that it expects flight schedules “to return to normal by Monday afternoon.”
But weather could complicate matters in the morning as a dense fog advisory is in effect.
Sunday’s standstill at the airport ripples beyond Atlanta, said Desmond Ross, principal of DRA Professional Aviation Services.
“There’s a lot of other issues downstream to all other airports, where flights should be arriving and departing, connecting to Atlanta, that are going to be disrupted as well. So we’re talking possibly millions of people disrupted over the next few days and it is certainly not going to be fixed in one day,” he said.