Delta computer outage included ‘small fire’ at data center

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NEW YORK (AP) – As flight cancelations and delays move into their fourth day, Delta Air Lines isn’t providing details on a “small fire” Monday at its data center and whether that fire – or attempts to extinguish it – compounded the airline’s troubles.

Delta’s problems started early Monday morning when a piece of electrical component at its Atlanta headquarters failed, CEO Ed Bastian told The Associated Press on Wednesday. That led to a shutdown of the transformer providing power to the airline’s data center. The system moved to backup power but not all of the servers were connected to that source, which caused the cascading problem.

But that initial failure also caused a fire. The airline is refusing to detail the extent of that fire – and the damage it caused.

“The equipment failure sparked a small fire. It was put out immediately and there was no need to call the fire department,” Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said via email Thursday.

The airline would not say how the fire was extinguished or if the means of putting it out damaged any other electrical equipment or any of the computer servers.

Delta has canceled more than 2,100 flights so far this week, the most of them happening Monday and Tuesday. But Thursday morning still had some headaches for travelers, with reporting at least 30 Delta flight cancelations and nearly 300 other delays. Some were due to the computer problems and others were due to bad weather, the airline said.

Bastian, on Wednesday, said that Delta knew it had to make technology upgrades “but we did not believe, by any means, that we had this type of vulnerability” regarding its flight operations and reservations systems.

Delta takes pride in having one of the best on-time records and rarely canceling flights. Bastian said this week’s problems do not reflect his airline’s long-time track record or what he foresees for the future.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make certain it does not ever happen again,” he said.

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