Aviation

“Pack your patience”: More delays expected as Aussie airports hit post-COVID peak

Australia’s ‘golden triangle’ airports are expecting today to be their busiest day since the global pandemic began, with Sydney Airport alone expecting 82,000 passengers.

It will represent the first time Sydney Airport’s domestic terminals have had more than 80,000 passengers since 6 March 2020 and will surpass the previous post-COVID peak of 78,000 domestic passengers on Friday 8 April.

The airport is encouraging passengers to arrive at least two hours prior to departure times for domestic flights.

Aussie airports have been swamped for the past week, with passengers complaining of massive queues and flight delays resulting from a “perfect storm” of labour shortages across security personnel, ground handlers, and airline staff.

Melbourne Airport is also urging passengers to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and at least three hours for international. It has also taken to Twitter to advise it will provide extra bus services to transport travellers from the car park to terminals.

“Processing times may be longer than usual, and we expect that there will be queues for check-in & security,” Melbourne Airport said via Twitter.

Brisbane Airport posted a similar notice on its Facebook page, asking passengers to arrive early and “#packyourpatience”.

“Thanks to all BNE passengers who have done a fantastic job during the busy school holiday period. You guys are awesome!” Brisbane Airport said on its Facebook page.

“We have three long weekends ahead of us so remember to arrive at least 2 hours before your domestic flight and #packyourpatience.”

BNE also advised travellers to book parking in advance, wear a mask, prepare for queues and “When in doubt, eat chocolate. It is Easter after all”.

In addition to arriving early, airports are also asking travellers to check-in online where possible and prepare for security screening by removing aerosols and laptops from hand luggage.

“I know it’s a difficult message to hear but Thursday is going to be another tough day for travellers, and I want to apologise in advance to anyone who is inconvenienced,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said.

“Tomorrow and right through the school holidays, we are pulling every lever available to us to get people on their way safely, including deploying senior executives and staff into our terminals to manage queues and ensure people make their flights.

“We’re also working with our security contractor, airlines, ground handlers and other operational agencies to make sure we have as many staff on the ground as possible for the morning and afternoon peaks.

“In the last few days we’ve seen the situation improve, but there is no avoiding the fact that significant queuing may occur over Easter. We continue to have up to 20 per cent COVID related staff absences on any given day and we’re working to rebuild our workforce in a really tight job market.”

As Travel Weekly reported yesterday, Sydney Airport security staff were recently offered Woolies gift cards as an incentive to work over the next two weeks.

Security staff who work today and Tuesday to Friday next week are eligible to receive a $50 voucher.

The NSW state government also recently added air transportation staff to its list of critical workers so they are exempt from self-isolation rules if they become a household contact.

The changes were made to the Public Health Order on Friday and mean that air transportation staff who become close contacts no longer have to isolate for seven days and can return to work if they have no symptoms.



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