Since last Wednesday, America’s 2nd largest carrier has canceled around 3,500 flights. Out of those 3,500 flights, more than 2,300 of those were due to the massive computer failure Delta incurred last August. That event led to CEO Ed Bastian to issue an apology. There was a huge storm that hit Atlanta last Wednesday that affected Delta operations.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a ground stop for all flights at Atlanta last Wednesday for approximately four and a half hours. According to Bob Edwards, a former chief information officer at United Continental Holdings, Inc., a halt of 30 minutes to two hours is normal but something almost five years makes everything “exponentially worse.”
Edwards said, “There was probably a large number of pilots and crews that timed out, and they timed out in places where there probably were not replacements. I do not want to underestimate the chaos that a five-hour ground stop would cause. Canceling quickly and getting ahead of it and staying ahead of it with cancellations is the key.”
Delta Airlines spokesman Michael Thomas, said, “Unfortunately, availability of flight crews to operate within federally mandated crew rest and duty day guidelines following last week’s disruption are still prompting some additional cancellations and delays. We know this extremely frustrating for our customers, and we apologize for that. Delta teams continue to work around the clock to fully reset our operation and keep customers informed.
The airlines said that operations were “stabilizing” on Sunday. However, aviation regulation on pilot and flight attendant rest were causing staff shortage to fly and run flights. The airlines have advised its passengers to check online for regular updates on flights as there could be more flights that could be canceled. It has offered waivers to help passengers rebook flights for free.
Severe weather walloped the mid-Atlantic region, the Northeast, and Georgia which created tornado-like conditions near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. 60% of its fleet passes through it daily. Delta Chief Operating Officer Gil West described the storms as “unprecedented.” She also acknowledged that the response of the Airline could have been much better.
West, said, “When Delta does not fly aircraft, not only do customers not get to their destination, but flight crews do not get to where they are scheduled to be. When this happens, unfortunately, further delays and cancellations result. And flight crews can only be on duty for a limited time before rest periods are required by law.”
Edwards said that the key to this kind of situation is to be proactive at canceling flights ahead of things like storms. This helps airlines reset their networks and crew.
Last August 2016, Delta Airlines was also affected by a computer outage that led to 2,300 flights canceled and three days of affected flights. The company also lost at least $100 million in lost revenue. Another computer issue in January led to two days of affected flights for Delta.
Airlines officials said that finding empty seats is likely to be a challenge because of the current heavy spring break travel.