Fayette County

Delta delays affected some Blue Grass Airport passengers

Delta jet
Delta jet AP

A technical problem with Delta airlines caused delays on Monday at Blue Grass Airport.

The airline said it suffered a power outage at an Atlanta installation around 2:30 a.m. Monday that caused many of its computer systems to fail. But the local electric company, Georgia Power, said that it was not to blame and that the equipment failure was on Delta’s end.

The problem caused a temporary stop of arrivals and departures around the world overnight, but flights began taking off again about 8 a.m. at Blue Grass. At that point, five Delta Air Lines flights were delayed, airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said. The longest delay was two hours.

By mid afternoon, there had been no cancellations, only delays, particularly with flights to Atlanta, Caudill said.

Nationally, hundreds of flights were canceled and delayed, grounding planes and stranding passengers. Delta is the second-largest U.S. airline by passenger traffic.

According to an Associated Press story, airlines depend on huge, overlapping and complex IT systems to do just about everything, from operating flights to handling ticketing, boarding, websites and mobile-phone apps. And after years of rapid consolidation in the airline business, these computer systems may be a hodgepodge of parts of varying ages and from different merger partners.

These systems are also being worked harder, with new fees and options for passengers, and more transactions — Delta’s traffic has nearly doubled in the past decade.

“These old legacy systems are operating much larger airlines that are being accessed in many, many more ways,” said Daniel Baker, CEO of tracking service FlightAware.com. “It has really been taxing.”

The result: IT failures that can inconvenience tens of thousands of passengers and create long-lasting ill will.

Computer network outages have affected nearly all the major carriers in recent years. After it combined IT systems with merger partner Continental, United suffered shutdowns on several days, most recently in 2015. American also experienced breakdowns in 2015, including technology problems that briefly stopped flights at its big hub airports in Dallas, Chicago and Miami.

Recovering from an outage can take several days, as Southwest proved last month. Southwest said it canceled 2,300 flights between July 20 and 24, about 12 percent of its schedule, and FlightStats Inc. said more than 8,000 flights were delayed.

Until Monday, Delta had been considered among the leaders in operations and was thought to be immune to big IT problems.