Delta cancels hundreds more flights, expects normal operations soon

Wed Aug 10, 2016 3:41pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N: Quote) on Wednesday canceled more than 300 flights and upended thousands of travelers' plans for the third day in a row after a power outage hit its computer systems, though it forecast a return to normal operations later this afternoon.

Delta, the No. 2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said systems that allow customer service agents to process check-ins and dispatch aircraft are now functioning normally. Most of Wednesday's delays and cancellations are the result of flight crews being displaced or running up against maximum allowed work hours, it said.

As of 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT), Delta said it had canceled 311 flights on the day, adding to the more than 1,600 cancellations since Monday. Another 2,540 flights departed on Wednesday, with 70 percent of them within 30 minutes of their scheduled times, the airline said.

"We're in the final hours of bouncing back from the disruption," Bill Lentsch, Delta's senior vice president for airport customer service and airline operations, said in an online posting.

The travel havoc at one of the world's largest carriers has brought into focus the vulnerability of airlines' technology infrastructure. Experts say mergers - and sometimes insufficient investment in back-end technology - have left airlines with a hodgepodge of systems.

What is more, a drive by companies to automate operations, from mobile boarding passes to check-in kiosks, means the impact of any single glitch will multiply.

Delta said problems arose when critical systems did not switch over to a backup source following a power surge and outage on Monday.

The airline is still investigating the cause, Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in an online video post, adding that the company has invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" in infrastructure upgrades and backup systems.   Continued...

Passengers wait in line to check in after Delta Air Lines computer systems crashed leaving passengers stranded at airports around the globe as flights were grounded at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, U.S., August 8, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts