Passengers still felt the effects of last month's power outage the day after, as they had to endure long lines to claim baggage. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Credit: Johnny Edwards
Credit: Johnny Edwards
Passengers sat in planes stranded on the tarmac. Travelers found themselves in darkened terminals, some seeing smoke, with no information about why the power was out, if they should leave or stay, or how to get food or water. Water fountains didn't work, and concessionaires shuttered their stands. Gate agents, TSA workers, police and front-line airport personnel seemed to have little information to offer. Travelers complained that there weren’t enough employees available to assist elderly and disabled people who were caught up in a mass exodus.
Quoting a deputy general manager, the AJC reported the next day that while the airport had conducted drills for partial outages – making plans to shuffle operations between terminals – it made zero preparations for the entire facility to go dark.
While then-Mayor Kasim Reed and airport General Manager Roosevelt Council profusely apologized for the overall debacle, their staff pushed back on the report of them having no plan. The airport said in a Dec. 22 written statement that "our Airport Emergency Plan addresses all hazards at the Airport and, following industry standards, is designed to expand and contract as necessary."
In addition, the statement said, a standard operating procedures chapter dealing with large outages "was utilized Sunday."
So why can't the airport show us that large outage plan? Because it's not part of the airport's standard operating procedures, but rather for a private entity, the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp., the airport said. AATC, an airline cooperative that handles facility maintenance for the terminal and concourses, may have the plan, the response to the AJC's records request said.
Spokesman Reese McCranie told the AJC as much several days after the blackout, but the written response makes clear that city personnel don't have a copy in any shape or fashion.
"Please submit your request directly to AATC," the response to the AJC's open records request said.
Meanwhile, the AJC has also asked for the airport's own emergency plan. That can't be released yet, the airport says, because TSA has to look over it first for any sensitive security information, and TSA may say it can't be released.