NEW YORK: The world's third-largest airline, Delta, suffered a complete shutdown of its computer systems yesterday (Monday), leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranding passengers around the world.
A power failure in Atlanta, where Delta is based, in the early hours of yesterday caused "a computer outage", which the company said "impacted Delta computer systems and operations worldwide". By 6pm UK time, flights had resumed, but with severe delays. The airline said 365 flights were
cancelled, and, so far, 1,260 of its nearly 6,000 scheduled flights had taken off.
The technical problems are likely to cost Delta millions of dollars in lost revenue and damage its hard-won reputation as the most reliable of the US carriers, having cancelled just a handful of flights in the most recent quarter.
The worst-hit airports were Delta's primary hubs in Atlanta, New York and Minneapolis. Staff resorted to manual flight check-in to process passengers, and offered travellers the opportunity of changing itineraries for later travel.
Delta said passengers whose flights were cancelled or "significantly delayed" were entitled to a refund - something which, unlike in Europe, is not always a given with US airlines.
Delta is the second-largest airline in America, according to the International Air Transport Association, the trade body for the aviation industry.
The US carrier also owns 49pc of Virgin Atlantic, although that airline has not been affected by Delta's difficulties.
Frustrated passengers at Heathrow airport posted pictures on the Twitter of long queues for check-in.
A Heathrow spokesman said: "Check-in is currently operating using a back-up system and airport staff are on hand to assist any passengers affected by the delays."