australian aviation logo

Winds blamed for 48 Sydney Airport cancellations on holiday getaway day

written by Adam Thorn | June 30, 2023

Seth Jaworski shot this picture of Sydney Airport from above

Strong winds have caused 48 flights to be cancelled at Sydney Airport on Friday as travellers leave for the state’s school holidays.

Airservices Australia, which oversees air traffic control, said the decision to switch to single runway operations is not due to a lack of controllers but purely as a safety precaution.

The considerable disruption will bring back memories of troubles at Australian airports last year when COVID isolation and staff shortages led to the worst delays in history.

On Friday, winds of around 37km an hour made parallel runway operations unsafe.

Sydney operates two parallel runways at 1,037 metres apart that allow two aircraft to be on the final approach simultaneously – but only operating in visual meteorological conditions.


It comes after the airport revealed earlier this month that more than 3 million passengers passed through its terminals in May, representing an 85.7 per cent recovery compared to pre-pandemic May 2019.

More than 1 million passengers travelled through its international terminal, an 83 per cent recovery compared to the same month pre-COVID, and 1.9 million domestic, an 87.3 per cent recovery rate.

Sydney Airport’s CEO, Geoff Culbert, said his business posted its strongest international traffic numbers since borders closed in March 2020.

“In the first five months of this year, we’ve had 5.5 million international passengers through Sydney Airport, which is almost three times the number we saw in the same period in 2022,” he said.

“The recovery of the China market continues to impress, with passenger numbers on the mainland route increasing seven-fold since the start of the year.

“Capacity in this market will continue to grow with a total of seven airlines flying 48 return services per week between mainland China and Sydney in July.

“This is one of the strongest China recoveries of any international airport globally, which provides a critical boost to Australia’s tourism industry, and the economy more broadly”.

Sydney Airport’s problems with delays and cancellations are exacerbated by a lack of take-off and landing slots, with the facility effectively operating at near capacity.

The problem is likely to be eliminated with the opening of the new Western Sydney International, which will begin flying operations in late 2026.

WSI will see up to 10 Jetstar and five Qantas narrow-body aircraft within the first year, operating more than 25,000 flights carrying around four million passengers annually to destinations including Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said he expects WSI to become the group’s sixth-biggest airport within its first year of operation.

“As we take delivery of more aircraft and expand our fleet, we see Western Sydney Airport as a significant growth opportunity for the Group, which will complement our existing operations in the Sydney basin and nationally,” he said.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.