Delta Airlines cancelled about 170 flights Sunday and 110 flights today as a result of a major IT systems outage, the company said in a statement.
This was a second system-wide outage for Delta in six months due to IT problems and a second major airline outage within a week’s time. More than 200 United Airlines flights were affected by an IT outage on January 29.
People involved in the industry have sounded alarms about outdated legacy IT infrastructure big airlines rely on, predicting more and more frequent technology-related incidents, but the companies have been reluctant to do major upgrades, which are costly and difficult to implement because systems have to remain online around the clock.
“I want to apologize to all of our customers who have been impacted by this frustrating situation,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “This type of disruption is not acceptable to the Delta family, which prides itself on reliability and customer service. I also want to thank our employees who are working tirelessly to accommodate our customers.”
The company has not provided details about the cause of the outage, saying only that Delta’s “essential IT systems” went down around 6:30 pm Eastern on Sunday. The systems were restored “a few hours later” and were back to normal shortly after midnight.
In an update posted on its website today at 7 am, the company said it was operating the “vast majority” of the flights scheduled for the day but a few additional cancellations were possible.
Airline outages are extremely costly, because in addition to the expense of repairs and general reputation damage, they have to issue refunds and reschedule flights for affected customers. Delta estimated that its data center outage last August cost the company about $150 million.
An outage at Southwest in July was estimated to have cost the airline at least $177 million.