Skift Take

After years of duct taping circuit boards and praying to a variety of gods, U.S. carriers need to take time out to invest in updating their systems. It will likely be a big hit to quarterly results, but it will pay off in the long term. Which airline is brave enough to make the first move?

Delta Air Lines Inc.’s grounding of U.S. flights was lifted after almost two and a half hours, ending the second disruption among major U.S. domestic airlines in just one week.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which said “automation issues” at Delta were to blame, in a later statement said the grounding was canceled. Delta’s international flights were exempt from the problem.

Delta’s computer outage prompted stranded passengers from Houston to Atlanta to take to social media as flights stayed grounded at airports. United Continental Holdings Inc. last week had to ground its U.S. flights following a computer failure. While that outage resulted in relatively few cancellations, it lasted about two and a half hours.

Atlanta-based Delta, the second-largest U.S. airline, operates almost 6,000 flights a day during peak summer months, according to a Delta release from August. The airline operates more than 800 aircraft and flies almost 180 million passengers a year.

The latest problem at Delta struck just as airlines struggled to comply with new travel restrictions following President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Parts of the order were temporarily blocked by judges.

Last year, a rash of computer failures disrupted flight operations at U.S. airlines. Thousands of passengers were stranded as carriers struggled to keep older information systems working.

Delta took a $100 million hit to sales after a power-control module at the company’s Atlanta command center caught fire in August, cutting power to computers. Southwest Airlines Co. had to halt flights the month before that because of issues with “multiple technology systems.”

Ground stops, as the FAA calls them, are relatively common reactions to thunderstorms and other disruptions in the U.S. aviation system. They are typically short-lived and narrowly drawn, such as halting departures to a congested airport for an hour or two.

–With assistance from Angus Whitley

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Michael Sasso from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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Tags: delta air lines, southwest airlines, united airlines

Photo credit: Delta's premium economy product. The airline faced another computer outage that resulted in the grounding of flights in the U.S. for nearly three hours this weekend. Delta Air Lines

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