Australia’s airlines recorded their worst-ever month for flight delays and cancellations in June, surpassing the previous record low result set just two months earlier during the Easter holidays in April.
The severe disruption was seen throughout the month as the industry continued to battle post-pandemic staff shortages. June’s issues were further fuelled by a mid-year school holiday travel surge and severe weather events, including flash flooding throughout NSW.
According to new data released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), just 63.0 per cent of all flights arrived on time in June, while 61.9 per cent departed on schedule.
Meanwhile, a total of 5.8 per cent of all flights were cancelled over the month, nearly three times more than the long-term cancellation average.
BITRE said these figures mark “the worst” the industry has seen since records began in November 2003. It comes just months after this record was previously set in April, as the airlines battled staff shortages amid the Easter and ANZAC Day long weekends.
Notably, June’s record-high rates of delays and cancellations come despite scheduling slightly fewer flights in June compared to April.
The Qantas Group was again the worst offender in June, after it cancelled 8.1 per cent of all scheduled flights in June, with over 40 per cent of all flown flights seeing a delay.
Meanwhile, rival Virgin cancelled 5.8 per cent of its flights, and saw the highest percentage of on-time arrivals for the month at 62.4 per cent.
The Sydney-Melbourne route saw the highest number of flight cancellations at 15.3 per cent of all scheduled services, while the return Melbourne-Sydney route saw the second-highest at 14.9 per cent.
Meanwhile, Sydney-Canberra saw a cancellation rate of 11.1 per cent, while Canberra-Melbourne reported 10.5 per cent.
Airlines and airports around Australia — and the world — have been under fire for months due to a growing prevalence of last-minute flight delays and cancellations, lost baggage, and unprecedented snaking queues at airports.
The industry has chalked up the chaotic scenes to the “perfect storm” of pent-up travel demand, COVID-19 absences, and an underlying shortage of aviation staff.
Last month, Australian Aviation reported that the combination of heavy rain and school holidays had led to more disruption across Australia’s airports.
Sydney Airport previously warned it would welcome 2.1 million passengers across the June school holiday period — significantly higher than the 1.8 million seen during the equivalent Easter break.
Internationally, more than 560,000 passengers were forecast, compared to 376,000 during the three-week break period in April.
Later, Perth Airport warned travellers to travel to the airport in taxis and Ubers due to its 18,000-spot car park reaching full capacity, while holidaymakers continued to battle long queues and flight cancellations.
A spokesperson for the airport stated that the issue could persist for at least three days due to “unprecedented” demand during the current school holiday period, and advised travellers to think ahead for alternative ways to travel to the airport this week.
“A surge in demand means that no further online bookings with be available for bookings starting in the next 72 hours,” they said.
“Passengers are advised to plan in advance and book parking online at least a week prior to their trip to secure a parking bay and to access the best available rate.
“Those travelling in the next few days should consider taxi or ride-share options to get to the airport.”