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Power restored to Atlanta airport after outage led to partial shutdown

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By Katy Dartford
Power restored to Atlanta airport after outage led to partial shutdown

One of the heaviest travel weeks of the year began with the cancellation of hundreds of flights on Sunday at the world’s busiest airport.

A power outage left passengers stranded in darkened terminals or in aircraft idling on tarmacs in Atlanta.

The early afternoon outage paralyzed operations at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through Sunday evening. 

Even though power was finally restored at close to midnight Sunday, the incident continued to cause massive disruption to holiday travel plans for thousands of people hit by airline cancellations extending into Monday.

Delta said it was cancelling about 300 flights on Monday, on top of the 900 Sunday cancellations as a result of the Atlanta outage. 

United Air Lines also warned on social media that travel on Monday may be affected.

The incident led the Federal Aviation Administration to ground flights bound for Atlanta. 

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines [LUV.N] were also among the major carriers that suspended operations at the airport on Sunday. Southwest canceled 70 departures on Sunday.

All passengers had safely disembarked from aircraft by approximately 10 p.m., or nine hours after the outage began.

On Twitter, some passengers reported sitting on planes for hours.

The FAA said air traffic control remained fully staffed, with the airport open and accepting general aviation and cargo operations. It expected commercial traffic to resume on Monday.

The city was providing shelter to stranded passengers at the Georgia International Convention Center. The city said that Chick-fil-A would be providing food for passengers. By late Sunday the city said it had provided 2,000 meals.

Georgia Power, the utility that provides electricity to the sprawling airport, said the failure was linked to a fire in an underground facility that damaged substations serving Hartsfield. 

The blaze damaged access to a backup system, Reed told reporters, adding the cause remained unknown.

For all carriers, nearly 700 flights scheduled to fly out of Hartsfield, or 60 percent, were cancelled on Sunday as of 10:30 p.m. EST, while 477 of all scheduled inbound flights were scratched, airline tracking service FlightAware said.