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Sydney Airport survives floods with just 6% cancellations

written by Adam Thorn | December 26, 2023

A pair of Rex 737s, VH-REX and VH-RQC, at Sydney Airport. (Image: Rex)

Just 25 departures on Christmas Day were cancelled at Sydney Airport despite severe flooding to the domestic runway apron and terminal.

In total, only 6.5 per cent of flights out of Australia’s busiest airport failed to take off, with no international services affected.

The result will be seen as a huge success for Qantas, Virgin, and the airport itself after another year of poor performance.

On Christmas Eve, more than 64 millimetres of rain fell between 5:30pm and 7pm and further rain the following day.

The thunderstorms were caused by slow-moving cell that saw the state emergency service rescue more than 20 people in the eastern suburbs of the NSW capital.


Users on social media posted a series of photos showing the damage, including one depicting a Rex transit vehicle wading through water.

Australian Aviation reported last week how Australia’s big three east coast airports are collectively expecting around 10.5 million passengers across their respective holiday peak periods.

Sydney has forecast 2.6 million passengers through its terminals over the three weeks from 14 December to 3 January, while Melbourne is expecting more than 4.2 million between 20 December and 29 January, and Brisbane is tipping 3.7 million between 1 December and 28 January.

The forecast for Sydney is almost 500,000 more than last year, which saw a disappointing December with less traffic at Australia’s biggest airport than five other months of the year.

“While it’s great to see many Australians heading away on an overseas holiday, we’re also excited to welcome an influx of overseas visitors who are choosing to enjoy a summer getaway in Sydney,” said Scott Charlton, chief executive officer of Sydney Airport.

“Airline capacity is now back to full strength, or beyond, to many key international destinations including the United States, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

“This is the first Christmas holiday since 2019 that the border with mainland China is open, and demand is strong, with seat capacity back to pre-COVID levels as we head into 2024.”

Airlines have also been preparing for the Christmas surge, with Qantas earlier this month announcing it was bolstering its reserve capacity across mainline, QantasLink, and Jetstar services.

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