NEWS

Delta Airlines Outage

At 2:30 AM Monday, August 8, 2016, Delta Airlines grounded flights around the globe after a power outage caused an overnight computer failure. According to one Delta pilot, “back in our control center in Atlanta…the center of the whole operation…their computers are down.” Initially, Delta was forced to cancel 451 of almost 6,000 daily flights on Monday but by the end of the day, Delta cancelled around 1,000 flights. On Tuesday the airline cancelled 800 flights, and on Wednesday ended up with about 300 cancelled flights after the estimated number was supposed to be closer to 90 cancelled flights.

Delta Airplane
A Delta plane sits at a gate in Atlanta (MaxPixel)

In a video message, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized for the chaos and offered $200 in travel vouchers for passengers with delays longer than three hours, waived flight change fees as well as fare differentials.

According to the utility company Georgia Power, the failure was due to a “switchgear” in the Atlanta data center that connects their computers to the power grid and backup generators. Although this outage occurred at the height of the summer travel season, Professor Vasigh from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University pointed out that it could have been “catastrophic for the airline” if it happened during Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, Buckingham Research Group estimated Delta’s third quarter earnings might be cut by 10 percent because of limited options airlines have to make up revenue that has been lost.

Delta is not the first major airline to experience power outages. Southwest Airlines had a computer outage on July 20, 2016 and last summer United Airlines had a computer glitch that caused “the cancellation of dozens of flights and delayed hundreds more.” The merging and consolidation of airlines has created a tangled computer system with mismatched networks. Some of those mergers included Southwest taking over AirTran, American Airlines merging with US Airways, Delta merging with Northwest and United merging with Continental.

Sources and Additional Reading:

  1. Computer Glitch Grounds Delta Air Lines Flights – ABC News
  2. Delta Computers Crash, Causing Delays and Cancellations – Washington Post
  3. Delta System Failure Marks Wake-Up Call for Airline Industry – Bloomberg Technology
  4. Delta Air Lines CEO Takes Responsibility for Outage – Wall Street Journal
  5. Why the Airline Industry Could Keep Suffering System Failures like Delta’s – NPR
  6. Delta System Failure Marks Wake-Up Call for Airline Industry – Bloomberg Technology
  7. Why the Airline Industry Could Keep Suffering Systems Failures like Delta’s – NPR
  8. Delta Computers Crash, Causing Delays and Cancellations – Washington Post
  9. Delta System Failure Marks Wake-Up Call for Airline Industry – Bloomberg Technology
  10. Why the Airline Industry Could Keep Suffering Systems Failures like Delta’s – NPR
  11. Delta Meltdown Reflects Problems with Aging Technology – Wall Street Journal
  12. Delta Computers Crash, Causing Delays and Cancellations – Washington Post