Delta Air Lines Expects About 90 Flight Cancellations Wednesday

By Robert Wall 
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LONDON– Delta Air Lines Inc. said about 90 flights would be canceled Wednesday in a continued spillover from a computer system failure that caused travel havoc Monday.

The flight cancellations would occur early, with normal operations projected for later in the day, said the No. 2 U.S. carrier by traffic.

The airline canceled 775 flights Tuesday after about 1,000 were annulled the day before when a systems failure occurred in the early hours of Monday. Delta chief operating officer Gil West said on Tuesday that a “power control module” at the airline’s technology center malfunctioned “causing a surge to the transformer and a loss of power.” Backup systems didn’t kick-in as expected.

“We continued today to steadily recover from the events of earlier this week that grounded our system, and are working hard to achieve a normal operation by midday tomorrow,” the airline’s senior vice president for operations Dave Holtz said.

The disruption has angered passengers. Delta said it would continue its policy of allowing some passengers to rebook without a fee for another day, and said unaccompanied minors wouldn’t be permitted to begin traveling on Wednesday.

The airline said it had dispatched reservation agents to its busy Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hub, the world’s busiest, to bolster the staff available to assist passengers.

Delta is the latest U.S. carrier to be hit by major disruptions from technical problems. That has raised questions about whether a recent wave of four U.S. airline mergers, which created four large carriers controlling 85% of domestic capacity, has built companies too large and too reliant on IT systems that date from the 1990s. Delta merged with Northwest Airlines eight years ago.

Joe Leader, chief executive of the Atlanta-based Airline Passenger Experience Association said the high degree of automation in airline systems and the push by airlines to get passengers to embrace online check-in or smartphone applications has made it more difficult to recover from system outages when they occur. “We have become so reliant on the technology that people have genuinely forgotten how to go to manual mode.”

Write to Robert Wall at robert.wall[a]wsj.com

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