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Dozens of flights cancelled as chaos continues at Sydney Airport

written by Hannah Dowling | April 11, 2022

Long lines form at Sydney Airport on Friday. (@jasminchill)

Dozens of flights have been cancelled from Sydney Airport, with many more delayed, as staff shortages continue to wreak havoc on the fledgling aviation industry.

A total of 39 flights at Sydney Airport have been cancelled so far since Sunday morning alone, as the country’s largest airport sees its busiest day since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Monday, 784 flights were scheduled to arrive and depart from Sydney airport, the highest day for aircraft traffic the airport has seen since flights began to stall in March 2020.

It marks a nearly 30 per cent increase on traffic seen in April 2021 – amid a brief period of relief for the industry before Omicron took hold – and a massive 393 per cent jump from the same day in 2020.

It comes as the airport enters its fifth day of chaos, as wait times at check-in and security continue to blow out.


Passengers on Monday morning continued to report that check-in and security lines, across both domestic and international terminals, were adding hours to their travel itineraries.


It comes after both Sydney Airport and Qantas blamed the extensive wait times, in part, on travellers themselves, however many passengers said that there was a visible staffing issue that saw security lanes and check-in desks closed and non-operational.

As reports first emerged of holiday-induced chaos in Sydney on Friday, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed delays on “not match fit” travellers.

“I went through the airports on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops, they have to take out their aerosols … so that is taking longer to get through the [security] queue,” he said.

He added COVID close-contact rules were causing “high level of absenteeism” of up to 18 per cent, however NSW Health later eased close contact rules for aviation workers, allowing them to return to work with a mask if they show no symptoms and test negative to COVID, even if someone in their household has tested positive.

Frustrated passengers were unimpressed with Joyce’s comments, arguing that the airline should have been more prepared for an influx of people flying.

It follows similar comments made by Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert, who blamed a “perfect storm” of COVID isolation, holiday demand and rusty travellers for the increasing wait times.

“We would like to apologise to passengers who are being inconvenienced and would like to thank people who are getting to the airport early, wearing their masks and making sure they are prepared for their check-in and security processes,” said Culbert.

“Traffic numbers are picking up, travellers are inexperienced after two years of not travelling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport.

“We encourage everyone to get to the airport early and we ask everyone to be patient as the industry gets back on its feet.”

Sydney Airport and airlines warn that extended delays could continue at Sydney until ANZAC day and advise travellers to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

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Comments (3)

  • Paul Guyler


    Aerosols and Laptops? Height of ignorance and self entitlement…..comical how they always find an excuse to divert from the truth. How about we talk to the elephant in the room….unlawful mandated COVID shots with ever increasing side effects in aviation pilots, flight attendants and ground staff!!! Now staff have said no enough is enough, and been stood down or terminated? No won’t see that story or possibly this comment because it goes against the globalist rhetoric!!

  • Nicholas


    As an ex Airport staffer I’d just say if you travel over Easter you should expect delays, if you travel over Easter in a Covid epidemic when you can predict extensive staff shortages then you need your head read.

    Yes yes the Airlines do know how many passengers are coming, but when you are short staffed, your systems and staff are rusty and not battle fit and you have lots of family groups then these delays are in fact both predictable and inevitable. No-one builds facilities for peak capacities yet alone when you are throttled back due to the absence of trained staff. Trained being a key word here…

    Travel over Easter isn’t the smartest….

  • Bob


    A reply to Paul when I first started working for Ansett you went overseas for holidays and says off. Before traveling you would have the injections that where needed to protect you from the various diseases that were in the third would countries I never got sick and did not have any reaction from the needles. Now with Covid I’ve had the first two injections then the booster and will be having no 4 booster with this years flu jab For the record I’m 76 and haven’t been I’ll and I still don’t get a reaction from the injection. I also still wear a mask in crowded places
    To Nicholas I worked at the airport for Ansett from 1965 till 1983 Yes we dealt with fuel strikes, ignorant passengers over bookings and u/s aircraft But we ensured that there were enough staff who were able to cope and supervisors who were skilled in man management and were prepared to roll up their selves. We all ran I always ensured that my staff got a coffee and something to eat behind the back wall But we did it.
    It’s funny that at the boss of Ansett was saying the most important people was the staff but didn’t back it up with words and actions Of course the result was that Ansett went down the drain. Unfortunately Mr Joyce seems to be heading in the same direction Yes he still has done a good job making money but he has done a poor job of developing his staff to cope with problems restarting the airline after Covid. I suppose it’s a different world now Staff don’t seem to time to do their duties and speak to the customers. Mind you the all the customers want is a first class service on very cheap fares. Yes I do miss the excitement of the the airports but I don’t miss the ignorant and demanding travelling public

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