ATLANTA – The CEO of Georgia Power is apologizing after several airlines canceled flights on Sunday following an airport-wide power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.
Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power, issued an apology on Monday, saying the company will learn from what happened over the weekend.
“This impacted lives around the globe and for that, we are sorry,” said Bowers. “There’s going to be lessons learned around the United States as well as globally about service points coming into airports—making sure you have fire retardancy, if equipment does fail.”
Although a definitive cause has not been established, according to Georgia Power officials, a piece of switchgear located in an underground electrical facility could have failed and started a fire.
The fire was safely extinguished by fire crews before Georgia Power could enter the area to assess damage and begin repairs. In addition to the fire, responding crews faced hazardous fumes and smoke which had to fully clear prior to beginning restoration work.
Power was restored to the facility around 11:45 p.m. on Sunday night.
FBI Atlanta released a statement regarding the matter on Tuesday, saying: “The FBI is working alongside Georgia Power, Atlanta Fire Rescue and ATF following logical leads into the fire that caused the power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Although it has not been ruled out, at this point there is no information to suggest there was any insider threat or nexus to terrorism.”
As for the airlines, Delta issued travel waivers to customers flying to, from or through Atlanta. The airline says they canceled approximately 900 mainline and Delta Connection flights and diverted 48 flights to alternate airports Sunday. Delta’s flight schedule returned to normal by Monday afternoon, however, the airline says it has temporarily embargoed travel for unaccompanied minors. Details are available at delta.com.
Southwest has also issued a travel waiver for cancellations on Sunday.
Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference Sunday evening where he stated a Georgia International Convention Center has been mobilized. It can accommodate between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals.
On Monday, Reed said the city could’ve done a better job of communicating what was happening at the airport but he also said it would have been a huge mistake to overreact.
“There were folks who were saying that we should’ve immediately evacuated the airport and I completely disagree with that assessment based upon the information that we had,” said Reed. “If we had given an evacuation order last night, there was a real chance that people would have become overly alarmed and in the dark more injuries would have occurred.”
Mayor Reed says the biggest priority right now is getting everything up and running smoothly.
According to Flightware.com, the power outage has caused the following:
Total delays today at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl: 580
Total delays within, into, or out of the United States today at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl: 580
Total cancellations today at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl: 619
Total cancellations within, into, or out of the United States today at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl: 619
As for the weather, a dense fog advisory remains in effect for much of west Georgia and metro Atlanta until 9 a.m. Tuesday morning Click here for more information on the advisory.
CBS46 morning anchor Amanda Davis was en route to Atlanta from Fort Worth, Texas via Delta Airlines when her flight was diverted to Little Rock due to the power outage at Harstfield-Jackson.