8 Numbers That Explain The Atlanta Airport Power Outage's Significance

At least 30,000 people were affected by incident, which caused more than 1,500 flights to be canceled.

A major power outage Sunday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ― the world’s busiest airport ― caused massive air traffic disruption across the country.

A fire at one of the airport’s underground electrical facilities caused multiple terminals to lose power, utility company Georgia Power said in a statement. Officials on Monday continued to investigate the fire’s cause.

Here are eight numbers to help explain the significance of Sunday’s outage, which impacted thousands of people and left many travelers scrambling to find back up plans during an already busy holiday travel season:



It took nearly 11 hours to fully restore power at the airport, officials said. Electricity went out in multiple terminals around 12:55 p.m. local time on Sunday. Utility crews weren’t able to fully restore power until roughly 11:45 p.m. that night. 


The massive power outage caused 1,595 flight cancelations on Sunday and Monday, according to flight data website FlightAware. Flights headed to or departing from Hartsfield-Jackson airport were either grounded or diverted to another airport. There were 1,183 cancellations on Sunday, and by 11 a.m. local time on Monday, at least 412 more flights scheduled to arrive or depart from the Atlanta airport had been canceled, according to Flight Aware.


Sunday’s incident was the primary culprit for airport delays across the country. Canceled flights related to the power outage accounted for nearly 92 percent of all canceled flights in the U.S. on Sunday alone, according to FlightAware.


Those flight disruptions represented a massive uptick compared to the average daily number. There are typically fewer than 100 flights canceled on a Sunday with clear weather, a spokeswoman for FlightAware told The New York Times.


At least 30,000 people were affected by the outage, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said during a news conference Sunday night. The chief result of the disruption, besides missed flights, was logistical chaos, lengthy lines and clogged traffic in and out of the airport. “There is no evidence to suggest that the fire was caused deliberately,” Reed said. “Even so we are taking this matter extremely seriously in making sure that after this fire event occurred, that the airport is safe and secure to begin operating.”


Despite the thousands of people impacted by the power outage and canceled flights, officials and businesses scrambled to lend a helping hand. While normally closed on Sunday, fast food chain Chick-Fil-A partnered with Hartsfield-Jackson officials to deliver over 5,000 meals to stranded passengers, the airport tweeted.


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. An estimated 275,000 passengers use the airport each day, according to the airport’s website.


Almost 2,500 planes land or take off from Hartsfield-Jackson each day, according to the airport’s website.