Delta CEO Blames Airline's Groundstop ‘Hiccup’ on a Faulty Device

(Bloomberg) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. blamed a “physical device issue” for a systems failure that forced the carrier to briefly ground all domestic flights earlier this week.

Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian on Friday provided few details about the cause of the disruption. Speaking at the Skift Global Forum in New York, he referred to the Sept. 25 problem as “a hiccup” and said it wasn’t a technology application issue.

The disruption was the third in as many years to force the Atlanta-based airline to shut operations. While airlines can’t eliminate all vulnerability to such incidents, Bastian said they have become less frequent and shorter in duration.

“If you went back a few years ago and had that outage, I think it probably would have taken us several hours to recover,” he said. “Today it was 26 minutes, and next year hopefully there won’t be any.”

While the disruption lasted just under a half-hour nationwide, flights were grounded an hour in Atlanta, Delta’s largest hub, a spokeswoman said. The airline has declined to provide details on what caused it to halt flights while it investigates the disruption.

International and regional U.S. operations weren’t affected by the latest problem, and there were no disruptions or safety issues for planes in the air at the time, the carrier said.

In January last year, a 2 1/2-hour computer breakdown grounded domestic flights. Delta’s worldwide computer systems failed in August 2016, causing massive cancellations.

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