The busiest airport in the world was brought to its knees on Sunday afternoon thanks to a power outage that stranded thousands of holiday travelers and caused hundreds of flights on Monday to be canceled amid the ensuing chaos.
In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed blamed the shock outage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on a fire at the main substation powering the busy travel hub, which sees over 100 million passengers and 1 million flights depart from the premises per year. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
“I want to express my sincere apologies to the thousands of passengers whose day has been disrupted in this manner,” Reed said during a press conference, per NBC News. “We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger and we are doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away.”
Delta Air Lines – which employs Hartsfield-Jackson as its largest hub and services over 1,000 flights per day out of Atlanta – canceled approximately 900 connection and mainline flights on Monday and offered passengers traveling Sunday, Monday and Tuesday the opportunity to change their travel plans without paying extra.
By 11:30 pm ET, power had been restored in three of the airport’s seven concourses, the Washington Post reported. American, Southwest and United had all canceled arrivals and departures at the airport Sunday due to the power outage and travelers were encouraged to check with the airlines to ensure that their flights would still be departing on Monday.
“People are being really calm and cool about it just because we realize it’s not the airline’s fault,” Atlanta radio host Brian Moote told NBC. “But the babies are getting restless. We don’t have any food; nobody has eaten. They’re trying to get us water.”
All power was reportedly restored to the airport by midnight Sunday.