Delta Air Lines struggled to restart its worldwide operations after a computer failure halted flights for hours and grounded thousands of passengers.
About 300 flights were scrapped and delays and cancellations will continue even as systems come back online, the second-biggest U.S. carrier said Monday on Twitter. A power failure at Delta’s Atlanta base beginning at 2:38 a.m. local time disrupted computer operations, according to the airline. The interruption was limited to Delta, a spokesman said.
A spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said no other airlines were affected. All systems have been functional at Georgia Power and the likely cause of the disruption was an “equipment failure at Delta,” a spokesman for the power provider said.
Whether Delta had an adequate backup system “is certainly a legitimate question,” said Bob Mann, president of aviation consultant R.W. Mann & Co. and a former airline executive. “Why didn’t the backup systems perform, or what was it about the systems that if they performed, it still didn’t allow the systems to communicate?”
Delta advanced 0.2 percent to $37.73 at 10:28 a.m. in New York.
Almost 3,300 Delta flights were scheduled for Monday, including 453 international departures, according to information from aviation database provider OAG. Delta carried about 500,000 passengers daily during July, its busiest month, the airline said on its website.
The computer-system failure included disruptions to flight-status displays, the website and some mobile and airport technology, Delta said in a statement.
“Delta is advising travelers to check the status of their flights this morning while the issue is being addressed,” it said. The carrier didn’t estimate how long repairs will take.
“This will obviously mean a financial burden on Delta as it will have to arrange for alternate travel and hotel costs for passengers who are booked,” said Mark Martin, founder of Dubai-based Martin Consulting. The airline would probably use agreements with other carriers to arrange alternative travel for some customers, he said.
The disruption at Delta was the second system failure at a major U.S. carrier in less than a month. Southwest Airlines Co., the biggest U.S. discount airline, said an outage July 20 that forced the cancellation of just over 2,300 flights would cost it “tens of millions” of dollars.
While Southwest’s computers were restored after about 12 hours, flights continued to be canceled or delayed for several days as the carrier worked to get crews and planes in the right locations.
U.S. carriers experienced a series of technical disruptions to flights late last year and early in 2016, including a connectivity flaw at American Airlines that halted flights at its Chicago, Dallas and Miami hubs in September and a reservations-system glitch at Southwest in October.
A United Continental Holdings computer fault last summer lasted two hours and disrupted travel for thousands of fliers. It began with a router malfunctioning and prevented the carrier from ticketing passengers and dispatching crews.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Michael Sasso, Benjamin Katz, Mary Schlangenstein