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Long delays at Sydney and Melbourne airports ahead of Easter chaos


Passengers waiting to fly out for an Easter holiday at Sydney Airport are again facing hefty wait times, while the chaos has also hit Melbourne Airport.

Staff shortages and the start of the school holidays has seen some passengers have to wait at least two hours to get through security. 

In Victoria, the end of the Grand Prix and a fault in a Qantas baggage belt this morning has not helped long check-in lines and extensive delays on day one of school holidays.

Queues at Sydney Airport today as school holidays kicks off in NSW.
Queues at Sydney Airport today as school holidays kicks off in NSW. (James Alcock)

Qantas boss Alan Joyce told Today that COVID-19 was having a huge impact on staffing levels.

“At the moment the sick leave, the absenteeism is twice the level of the reserves,” Mr Joyce said. 

“You have 15 per cent of cabin crew typically on reserve on backup, on standby, where you are getting up to 30 per cent of people not turning up because of COVID or close contacts.

“Managing that, we ask people to give us patience. We again apologise for it.”

Mr Joyce said changed to rules for close contacts this week should help improve the situation.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has partly blamed passengers for airport delays. (AFR/Louie Douvis)

More people travelling than before

More than 87,000 passengers are expected to pass through Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport today, marking the busiest day for departures at the airport in more than two years.

And the number of people travelling around Australia is expected to be higher than pre-COVID levels, Qantas has advised.

The number of Qantas and Jetstar domestic flights running will be 110 per cent of 2019 figures, flying around 500,000 passengers from this Thursday to Easter Monday.

A Sydney Airport spokesperson has warned delays could continue through Easter and Anzac Day.

“We’re incredibly grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and for treating each other and airport workers with kindness and respect,” the spokesperson said.

“We have significant COVID-related staff shortages and we’re also working to rebuild our workforce in a really tight jobs market.

“Unfortunately this is an industry-wide issue and airports and airlines around the world are experiencing similar challenges.

“The Easter and Anzac Day long weekends are going to be busy again, and we’re advising travellers to arrive at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international.”

Virgin Australia said in a statement travellers are likely to experience longer delays than usual.

“Virgin Australia is gearing up to fly tens of thousands of guests over Easter in what is shaping up to be the busiest travel period since before the pandemic,” the statement read.

“We encourage all guests flying domestically with us to follow the advice of airports and arrive two hours ahead of scheduled departure, and use online check-in.

“We appreciate the patience of all travellers as our team continue to work around the clock to assist our airport partners and help our guests get to their destinations on-time.”

Considering the delays, travellers are advised to arrive at airports at least two hours before domestic flights and at least three hours before international flights.

Meanwhile, Adelaide Airport is also advising travellers if they have a domestic flight this week arrive at least two hours early.

Long queues have also been seen there over the weekend, with a security staffing shortage.

Melbourne Airport busiest it's been in three years
There are long wait times at Melbourne Airport. (9News)

“I went through the airport on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops and they need to take out their aerosols,” Mr Joyce said yesterday.

“So that is taking longer to get through the queue.”

Over the weekend, Qantas carried 350,000 people on 2800 flights, Mr Joyce said.

“Next weekend, we’re going to carry half a million people on Qantas and Jetstar alone and we are going to be putting as many staff as we can at the airports to help people get through this process.”

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