Nearly 80 flights arriving and departing from Sydney Airport have been cancelled on Tuesday, as Omicron forces aviation staff into isolation.
The disruption is affecting domestic and international flights from airlines including Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar, Cathay, FlyPelican and Delta.
The news comes a day after Virgin formally announced it would slash its flight capacity for January and February by 25 per cent and place its recently resumed sole international service to Fiji on hold.
On Tuesday, 78 flights were cancelled at Sydney, 47 at Melbourne and 48 at Brisbane, with NSW alone recording 220,816 COVID cases this week.
The high numbers have led to a string of changes to get employees back to work by both state and federal governments, including allowing asymptomatic close contacts in frontline industries to return to work if they’re asymptomatic, switching PCR tests for over-the-counter antigen tests and mandating a third booster shot.
It follows Virgin on Monday announcing it would significantly cut its capacity for the rest of summer. Chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said the measures will not impact the business or its customers long-term.
“One thing we have learnt from the last two years is that we need to keep adapting as circumstances change. So, we will continue to do that, and have made some temporary changes to our network to manage the current environment,” Hrdlicka said.
“We do know that as we make the shift to living with COVID-19, there will continue to be changes in all our lives and we look forward to continuing to connect our guests with their families, friends, colleagues.
“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to any guest impacted by the changes to our flight schedule during this time.”
The suspended routes are:
- Adelaide-Sunshine Coast
- Coffs Harbour-Melbourne
- Hamilton Island-Melbourne
- Gold Coast-Launceston
- Gold Coast-Hobart
Customers with existing bookings on impacted services will be “re-accommodated”, according to Virgin, and the airline encourages affected customers to reach out for more information.