Power was restored to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport late on Sunday, hours after an outage stranded passengers in dark terminals and in planes on the tarmac.
The airport, one of the world’s busiest, also issued a “ground stop” for flights heading to Atlanta due to the power cut, meaning passengers across the U.S. were stopped from flying to the important south-eastern hub.
According to the CNN, “more than 1,000 flights to and from Atlanta were cancelled.
“Thousands of passengers were stranded for hours.’’
The airport management tweeted that “power has been restored on all concourses, 5,000 plus meals are being delivered to the passengers.
The airport said in a statement earlier that the facility had sustained a power outage shortly after 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).
Power was down for almost 11 hours and was restored by 11:45 pm.
“Georgia Power believes the issue may have involved a fire which caused extensive damage in an underground electrical facility,” the statement said.
“The cause of the incident remains under investigation,” the statement said, advising passengers to check with their airline for further updates.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper, a Delta Airlines pilot told passengers that a construction crew cut a power line, but the airport retorted via Twitter that the report had not been confirmed.
Late on Sunday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed confirmed that all passengers had been “de-planed” after power affected the airport’s gangways and luggage facilities.
“I want to express my sincere apologies to the thousands of passengers whose day has been disrupted in this manner,” Reed said at a press conference.
“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.”
Reed also said that officials had conducted a security sweep of the airport and found “no evidence to suggest that the fire was caused deliberately.”
Georgia Power officials told the AJC the reason for the fire was not yet known.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled and many others delayed on Sunday, with U.S. airline Delta confirming it will cancel around 300 flights on Monday.
United Airlines issued a travel waiver, allowing customers to change to alternate flights without paying a change fee.
The cancelled flights disrupted air traffic throughout the U.S. and came during a peak travel period ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The restoration of power was gradual.
Late on Sunday evening, officials confirmed that power had been turned back on in the airport’s atrium and three concourse areas.
Some 2,500 flights take off and 275,000 passengers pass through the airport each day, making it one of the busiest air transport hubs in the world.