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.
If you are traveling today, Sydney airport is still gummed up. pic.twitter.com/BpnvbmUpdQ
— Richard Yetsenga 叶森 ?? ?? ?? ?? (@ricyet) April 10, 2022
— ᴋᴇᴇᴛ ❖ ᴺᴹ (@keethaniel) April 10, 2022
Sydney International security. 5 lanes open, no express path. Worse than anything I’ve ever experienced in America. Absolute disgrace. 35 minutes and I’m halfway through the line. @SydneyAirport pic.twitter.com/qzhUEPGodW
— Jake Hartmann (@AtlasHart) April 10, 2022
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.
— Andrew (@Andrew93862755) April 10, 2022
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.