Atlanta Airport May Have to Pay Delta a Lot of Money for the Power Outage
Due to a still-undisclosed issue, the Atlanta airport (ATL) power shut down across the entire airport just before 1pm Sunday. It would take power crews over 11 hours to restore power to all sections of the airport. During that time, all outbound flights were cancelled, many inbound aircraft were diverted to nearby airports and some passengers were trapped on aircraft for up to seven hours waiting for stairs.
The City of Atlanta opened the Georgia International Convention Center as a shelter for stranded passengers. And, in a true sign of desperate times, Chick-fil-A even opened on a Sunday to feed stranded passengers.
The social media backlash against the airport was immediate. Passengers and observers alike slammed the busiest airport in the world for not having adequate power backups or emergency plans.
Now, the financial backlash begins.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday night, Delta CEO Ed Bastian expressed his dismay and anger at the airport for taking so long for the power to be restored. But, he's not stopping with just words. Bastain pledged to "seek reimbursement” from the Atlanta airport, Georgia Power or both:
We will certainly be seeking the opportunity to have a conversation, and then seek reimbursement. I don’t know whose responsibility it is between the airport and Georgia Power, but we’re going to have conversations with both of them.
Bastain estimates that the 1,400 Delta flight cancellations caused between $25 to $50 million in lost revenue from the power outage. The AJC notes that this $25-50 million figure "doesn't include additional costs incurred by Delta" which is "reimbursing passengers for Sunday night hotel stays."
As the largest airline in Atlanta, Delta depends heavily on the ATL airport — and the airport depends heavily on Delta. It'll be interesting to see how this relationship is tested by this massive failure.