Delta Air Lines Demands Compensation for Atlanta Power Failure As Industry Braces for More

by Barbara Peterson
Delta Air Lines Demands Compensation for Atlanta Power Failure As Industry Braces for More

Photo: VytautasKielatitis/Shutterstock.com


As the U.S. airline industry geared up for the pre-Christmas rush, officials declared that things were back to normal following the Dec. 20  blackout at  Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which knocked out power to the world’s busiest airport and roiled air travel throughout the country.

But judging from comments from airline industry officials and analysts, the memory of the meltdown won’t fade so quickly.

Delta Air Lines,  the carrier most directly affected by the fiasco, has already told the local utility company, Georgia Power, that it expects to be compensated to the tune of about $50 million.   In Atlanta alone, more than 1,500 flights were canceled over two days; more than 1,200 of them were Delta flights.

“It was shocking, candidly, that it took so long to get the power back on,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the Atlanta Constitution, adding “to be out of power for almost 12 hours is unbelievable.”  He also said the airport could bear some responsibility too.

And the airline’s losses could be even larger, since it is only now assessing the expenses of accommodating affected passengers.  Delta and other airlines also issued waivers for travelers who had booked flights to, or through, Atlanta in the days following the outage.

What set off the blaze is still under investigation, but the problem reportedly began when a piece of equipment failed, starting a fire in an underground area that houses electrical systems. The power company confirmed that the problem quickly spread to “redundant circuit cables and switching mechanisms", in effect, gutting its back-up system.

The failure stranded thousands of passengers who were literally in the dark, with little or no information on what was happening or when they’d be on their way. 

And one of those passengers was none other than the former U.S. Transportation Secretary  Anthony Foxx,  who served in the Obama administration, and tweeted from his Delta flight as it sat on the tarmac:  

“Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today. I am stuck on @delta flight, passengers and crew tolerating it. But there is no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE! “  

Atmosphere Research analyst Henry Harteveldt said that the incident was a wake- up call to the industry.

“We’ve never seen anything like this happen” on this scale, he said.   “Airlines must have been stunned when they realized that the power supply and secondary supply to the world’s biggest airport were flowing through the same station.” 

He pointed out that the failure affected virtually all operations at the entire airport; in other glitches affecting air travel, such as Delta’s computer outage not long ago, at least some systems could function. “When there’s an IT outage, at least you can down your sorrows at the airport bar,” he said.

The one good thing coming from this, he said, is that “all airports will be taking steps to make sure this won’t happen again."

It’s also renewing calls for more capital investment in aging airport facilities; the Airports Council International, for example, has said that U.S. airports need some $100 billion in infrastructure upgrades over the next five years to avoid falling behind.   But Harteveldt said that the cause of the Atlanta meltdown may be different:   “It’s not clear it’s the result of an antiquated infrastructure; it’s more likely the result of bad planning and bad execution.”

Meanwhile, AAA forecasts that a record 107.3 million Americans will be traveling by all transportation modes from Dec. 23 through New Year’s Day, including 6.4 million air travelers – a four percent increase. 

  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Best Travel Destinations Within 5 Hours of NY

1. Bermuda

2. Iceland

3. Miami

4. Austin

5. Tulum

Source: Business Insider

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=dd7f092d-7dff-e711-80eb-782bcb667b27

What's Their 'Why'? Connect Your Clients to Their Passion for Travel

The unique reasons that inspire people to travel are the foundation of travel fulfillment, and more sales for travel agents.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Qatar Airways May Quit Oneworld Alliance as Tensions Persist Over Subsidy Dispute
Qatar Airways May Quit Oneworld Alliance as Tensions Persist Over Subsidy Dispute

A spokesman for Oneworld said in a statement that the alliance views the fracas as a ‘difference of opinion’ that it hopes ‘can be resolved quickly.’

Alaska Airlines Raises Checked Bag Fee to $30, Matching Rivals
Alaska Airlines Raises Checked Bag Fee to $30, Matching Rivals

The airline has fallen in line with the U.S. airline industry, where, with the exception of Southwest, the price to check luggage is a minimum of $30 one-way.

TSA Unveils Plans to Expand Facial Recognition Technology
TSA Unveils Plans to Expand Facial Recognition Technology

The technology matches facial images to photos in government databases, such as those obtained from passports or visa applications, to verify identity and reduce reliance on physical documents.

United Airlines Adds Flights from Hilton Head, Anchorage, and More for 2019
United Airlines Adds Flights from Hilton Head, Anchorage, and More for 2019

The 22 additional flights will be seasonal and will start on Apr. 6, 2019.

SAA’s Jarana Says Airline is on Track for Profitability
SAA’s Jarana Says Airline is on Track for Profitability

South Africa's national carrier is undergoing a transformation, becoming a more customer-focused organization than most traditional, state-owned enterprises.

Bucking Industry Trend, Delta Air Lines Promises Free WiFi For Passengers
Bucking Industry Trend, Delta Air Lines Promises Free WiFi For Passengers

The move will no doubt be popular with customers who have been complaining about ever-rising ancillary charges.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck