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Nation & World briefs: Airlines inch back to normalcy after airport blackout

  • Travelers sleep in the atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the world's busiest airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC

  • Travelers pass under the flight board showing cancellations in the North terminal on Monday Dec. 18, 2017 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta the day after a massive power outage brought operations to halt. Power was restored at the world's busiest airport after a massive outage Sunday afternoon that left planes and passengers stranded for hours, forced airlines to cancel more than 1,100 flights and created a logistical nightmare during the already-busy holiday travel season. (John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) JOHN SPINK / AJC


Monday, December 18, 2017
Airlines inch back to normalcy after airport blackout

ATLANTA — The nation’s air-travel system struggled to get back on schedule and re-book stranded passengers Monday after a fire and blackout at the world’s busiest airport forced the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights days before the start of the Christmas rush.

An underground blaze knocked out electricity and crippled Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for about 11 hours Sunday.

A spokesman for Delta, the biggest airline at the airport, said most of its delayed passengers were booked on other flights scheduled to leave Monday. Spokesman Michael Thomas said the airline should be “largely if not completely” back to normal by Tuesday.

Southwest, the airport’s second-largest airline, said it was back on a normal schedule, but a spokesman could not say how long it would take to clear the backlog of stranded travelers.

American Airlines, which is much smaller, said that it, too, booked many of its passengers on new flights but that some will have to wait until later in the week to fly.

In rare cases, some passengers won’t arrive until Thursday, said Robert Mann, president of an airline consulting firm in Port Washington, N.Y.

The fire broke out Sunday afternoon next to equipment for a backup system, causing that to fail, too. Power wasn’t fully restored until about midnight.

The control tower did not lose power because it has a separate electrical feed, and planes that were in the air and close to Atlanta when the blackout hit were allowed to land. Other incoming flights were diverted, and outgoing flights were halted.

Panel picks law firm to probe Rosenberg

BOSTON — The Senate Ethics Committee has agreed to hire the law firm of Hogan Lovells to serve as a special investigator into whether former Senate President Stan Rosenberg or his staff violated Senate rules in connection with allegations against Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner.

The committee said Monday they’re confident the firm can conduct a fair investigation. The committee said Hogan Lovells has experience in investigating alleged public sector misconduct.

The committee said it doesn’t anticipate additional public statements until the investigation is finished and a report submitted.

The committee said it will release the report publicly while protecting the identities of victims and witnesses who cooperate.

Smiley claims PBS made mistake, but PBS fires back

NEW YORK — Tavis Smiley has defended himself from allegations he had sexual relationships with subordinates and created an abusive workplace environment, denying any wrongdoing and saying PBS made a mistake by suspending him from his talk show. PBS almost immediately fired back, saying he “needs to get his story straight.”

He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday that he’s never coerced anyone into a relationship but has had consensual relationships in the workplace. He said those relationships weren’t forbidden by the company he owns and he claims he never promoted or fired anyone based on their relationship with him.

“I’ve never groped. I’ve never coerced, I’ve never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone in 30 years,” Smiley said. “I’ve made mistakes — I’m human. I’m not perfect. But it doesn’t rise to the level of wrongful termination.”

Smiley said Monday that he applauds women coming forward to share their sexual assault and harassment experiences “to lead us in a conversation about how to create healthy workspaces.”

At the same time, he said “I want to make sure we don’t lose all sense of nuance and proportionality in this conversation, because if we do then people end up being guilty simply by accusation.”

PBS responded in a matter of hours, saying Smiley’s acknowledgement of multiple relationships contradicted his previous statements.

“Tavis Smiley needs to get his story straight,” it said in a statement, which also promised more accusations: “Additional allegations are continuing to come to light since last week’s announcement.”