One of Australia’s busiest airports has had a weekend to forget after dozens of flights were cancelled and delayed due to a number of air traffic controllers calling in sick and poor weather conditions.
The chaos began on Friday when 39 domestic flights were cancelled due to “a number of unexpected staff absences in the Sydney Tower”, according to Airservices Australia.
ABC News reported that more than 20 of those flights were either Qantas or Jetstar, while Virgin cancelled 14 flights, and Rex and Tiger Air each cancelled two.
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) January 18, 2019
The disruptions continued on Saturday, with Airservices Australia warning that services would experience more havoc “due to poor weather conditions and staff absences in the Sydney Tower”.
Air traffic services will experience some disruption today due to poor weather conditions and staff absences in the Sydney Tower. To ensure safety we have slowed services and are working with industry to minimise disruption. Check with your airline for flight info. #aviation
— AirservicesAustralia (@AirservicesNews) January 18, 2019
The strong winds, which began picking up on Friday night, even forced one of Jetstar’s Hobart to Sydney flights be diverted to Canberra, where passengers were provided with hotel accommodation and a bus transfer to Sydney on Saturday morning.
One passenger told ABC News that the flight captain informed everyone on board that the the aircraft didn’t have enough fuel to wait for the backlog of other planes to land.
Airservices Australia, along with the commercial airlines flying in and out of Sydney, warned customers yesterday that they could face further delays as the airport played catch-up.