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‘Rain bomb’ and holidays cause more airport queues

written by Adam Thorn | July 2, 2022

The July school holidays has led to more big queues at Sydney Airport (@joshgnosis)

A combination of heavy rain and school holidays has led to more disruption across Australia’s airports.

Travellers have taken to social media to show photos of snaking queues. However, most flights at Sydney airport, the worst affected, have departed on time or with a short delay.

Just 24 flights were cancelled on Saturday.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned flooding was “essentially guaranteed” over the weekend as a weather system moves across the NSW coast.

Heavy rainfall has been forecast from Port Stephens, in NSW’s north, down to Bateman’s Bay, with the situation not clearing up until the middle of next week.

“With catchments already saturated and dams at or near capacity, there is a heightened risk of riverine and flash flooding as well as landslips along central parts of the NSW coast from Saturday,” BOM said.

“River levels are expected to rise from Saturday, with the largest impacts starting Monday or Tuesday next week.

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“Wind and waves will also increase along parts of the coast from Saturday, with a risk of coastal erosion for some areas.”

Sydney Airport previously warned it would welcome 2.1 million passengers across the holiday period — significantly higher than the 1.8 million seen during the equivalent Easter break.

Internationally, more than 560,000 passengers are forecast, compared to 376,000 during the three-week break period in April.

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The situation appears to be comparing favourably to the previous disruption. A later report revealed domestic flight delays in April were the worst since records began — with almost 40 per cent of arrivals and departures disrupted due to operational chaos during the busy Easter period.

Lorie Argus, Melbourne Airport’s CEO, said departing passengers should plan to leave plenty of time before their flight.

“We encourage people to allow time to get to the airport, check-in and go through security, as there may be queues, particularly at peak travel times,” she said.

“Equally, we’d ask people don’t arrive too early because some airlines don’t open check-in until two hours before a domestic departure and three hours prior to an international flight.

“The aviation industry is still working to rebuild our workforce following the pandemic, and staffing remains an issue for some operators, particularly in baggage and ground handling.”

The industry is currently also grappling with a severe talent shortage, caused by COVID retirements and exacerbated by borders opening leading to employees being poached by overseas firms.

In June, both Emirates and Sydney Airport made major attempts to woo prospective employees.

“Fifteen thousand jobs were lost at the airport during the pandemic and even though everyone started recruiting heavily when borders looked like opening, we’ve still got 5,000 roles to fill,” said Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert in June.

“Our security contractor and ground handlers have been advertising jobs since December and have brought 500 staff on board since the start of the year but they have another 1,200 roles to go, which is incredibly challenging in this market.”

Emirates, meanwhile, held three open days across Australia to recruit cabin crew to be based in Dubai.

The airline said successful candidates would enjoy a tax-free salary, free accommodation, and excellent medical cover, with average starting pay of nearly 4,000 AUD per month.

Comment (1)

  • John J

    says:

    I’m sorry but this article is a complete farce. As someone working in the middle of the chaos at Sydney I get to see the delays, screw ups and abysmal OTP. I have watched QF’s domestic flights endure multiple days over the last week of 0% OTP. That’s right you read correct, according to the companies own internal figures, it achieved no on time departures on some days. I believe today (5/7/22) reached the dizzying heights of a bit over 12% and that’s with little actual rain, there have been several days where it sat at sub 3%. How this equates to a better performance than April is frankly baffling. Is this the level we have reached, telling lies in the face of glaring reality? Apparently so…

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