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Brisbane and Melbourne airports survive holiday surge

written by Adam Thorn | September 19, 2022

Brisbane International Departures (Jen Dainer / BNE)

Brisbane and Melbourne Airports appear to be holding the line as their states’ school holidays bring a fresh surge of passengers.

It follows previous end-of-term getaways leading to record nationwide delays in April, June and July as the industry battled chronic staff shortages and COVID-19 absences.

On Monday, both airports saw an average delay of just 20 minutes for each passenger, according to the latest data from Flightradar24, while social media reports of disruption were subdued.

Victoria and Queensland are the first states to begin their holiday period and will be followed shortly by the ACT, NSW, NT and WA on 24 September and SA on 1 October.

It comes after Qantas repeatedly said it was confident its services would return to pre-pandemic standards by September.


“On-time performance has improved from 52 per cent of flights on time in July to 67 per cent in August and 71 per cent from 1–14 September,” it said in a statement.

“Flight cancellations also reduced to just 2 per cent during the month so far, down from 7.5 per cent in June and 4 per cent in August. The current figure is below pre-COVID levels.

“Performance will be tested in coming weeks with school holidays, long weekends and football finals driving high levels of demand at peak times.

“Customers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time for domestic flights and three hours ahead for international flights.”

Brisbane Airport is expecting more than one million passengers to pass through its buildings in the two weeks of school holidays, with a record since pre-COVID of 12,300 International passengers and 58,000 domestic passengers forecast on peak days, while Melbourne Airport expects 1.5 million.

“The recent work the airlines have been doing to improve their operational performance is starting to show in their on-time data, and our team is doing what we can to support them,” said CEO Lorie Argus.

“The airport will be busy, so we’d encourage passengers to allow plenty of time to help take pressure off themselves and the system.”

It comes after Australian Aviation reported this month how domestic airlines were significantly reducing capacity to mitigate the delays and cancellations caused by staff shortages and sickness.

The ACCC revealed the cut in seats for sale during the last few months came despite the local industry hitting 97 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger numbers in June.

“The domestic airline industry carried 4.7 million passengers in July 2022, marking a new high since the pandemic first impacted the industry in early 2020,” said the competition watchdog in its latest quarterly report on the industry as it recovers from the pandemic.

“July 2022 was the fourth consecutive month with more than 4 million passengers flying, representing notable stability for an industry that has endured regular interruptions in recent years.

“Despite the high number of passengers, the July 2022 figure only represented 89 per cent of the number of passengers who flew at that time of year in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

“This was the same as the recovery levels reached in April 2022, but below the recent high in June 2022, which saw passenger numbers reach 97 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Separate Cirium figures recently released also showed how Virgin, Qantas, and Air New Zealand were named among the global airlines with the current highest cancellation rates.

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