ATLANTA - The power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport continued into Sunday evening after the incident first happened early in the afternoon.
Atlanta police told Channel 2 Action News it was to begin evacuations of the airport.
“We are aware of the situation and are assisting with crowd control and helping to manage traffic around the airport,” police spokeswoman Officer Lisa Bender said.
The AJC reports inside the airport, a swirling mass of people waited in an aimless pattern trying to get cellphone signals in a darkening airport as passengers sat stranded in parked planes on the tarmac.
The terminals were pitch black and people had to use cellphones to light their path. People in wheelchairs had to be carried down stopped escalators and stairwells.
Georgia Power in a Sunday evening statement (below) says it expects to restore electricity to the airport by midnight. The utility says the issue causing the power outage “may have involved a fire which caused extensive damage in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility.”
Now, airlines are beginning to cancel flights. Southwest Airlines tweeted early Sunday evening it had cancelled all remaining operations for December 17 at Hartsfield-Jackson International.
Delta Air Lines says it has cancelled 450 of its mainline and regional flights because of the power outage. For its planes not able to get to a gate, the airline was working to deplane passengers safely.
At 1:32 p.m. Sunday afternoon, the airport’s official Twitter account posted: A power outage has impacted several areas in the airport. #ATLofficials are working to remedy the situation. Additional updates to come.
Hartsfield-Jackson followed with a tweet to report the FAA has set a ground stop for flights into Atlanta due to the outage.
According to FlightAware, the airport is holding all inbound flights until at least 4 p.m. Departure delays are averaging nearly an hour and a half.
The FAA says its tower at Hartsfield-Jackson is able to operate normally, but departures are delayed due to equipment in the airport’s terminals not working.
From Delta Air Lines’ Twitter account: Delta is aware of a power outage at @ATLairport affecting airport concourses and terminal buildings. Flight disruptions are expected as a result and Delta customers are encouraged check the status of their flight via the Fly Delta Mobile App or http://Delta.com .
Previously, the website FlightAware was showing the airport holding all inbound flights due to an equipment outage.
Rick Crotts, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor aboard Flight 3392 that arrived at the airport at 1:31 p.m., tells the AJC he was among passengers waiting aboard their flights to reach a gate.
Crotts' flight had been waiting for more than two hours, when crews brought a ladder and started getting people off the plane about 3:40 p.m., he said.
Earlier, the Delta Air Lines pilot told passengers a construction crew cut a power line, causing the outage, but an airport spokesman, Andy Gobeil, said officials weren’t sure.
“We have not determined what caused it,” Gobeil said. Atlanta fire officials and others are “trying to determine how long it will take to get everything up and running.”
Georgia Power officials confirmed they are aware of the problem, but didn’t have additional information.
Return to WSB for updates.