Travellers are again facing long queues at airports in Sydney and Melbourne, with staff shortages and school holidays combining to hold up ‘out-of-practice’ passengers.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said delays at Sydney Airport, which began last week, were in part because up to half the workforce was isolating due to COVID-19.
“We’re getting absenteeism of around 20 per cent, maybe some days in some areas up to 50 per cent, and that means that we can’t open up all the security lanes,” he told ABC TV on Monday.
“I want to apologise to all of our passengers – on behalf of the airports who do the security, on behalf of the airlines to having to deal with this,” he said.
The decision by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to scrap the isolation requirement for airport workers who are close contacts in Sydney would help to ease staff shortages there, he said.
“We’re also seeing that passengers are rusty in travelling as well.
“You know, it’s happening to all of us.
“I just came back from a trip from the United States. I left my passport in my hotel safe,” he said.
Mr Joyce urged passengers to be patient, saying staff were working well in tough circumstances.
There were delays in both domestic terminals in Sydney on Monday morning. However, the backlog of passengers was starting to clear about 8.30am, an airport spokesperson said.
“There is some delays at some airline check in desks, but they’re getting through those (lines) and getting people to those security check in points.”
There were also delays in Melbourne on Monday.
The Sydney Airport spokesman said traffic in the precinct was also easing after congestion earlier on Monday.
“We have seen congestion in the terminals – but from all reports it’s flowing better now.”
Both airports are expected to remain busy throughout the upcoming Easter long weekend and Anzac Day weekend. Domestic travellers are advised to arrive two hours early.
Mr Joyce said the recommendations to arrive extra early weren’t confined to Australia.
“I was talking to my brother in Ireland who is travelling to Manchester today. They have been told to turn up 3.5 hours before the flights in Dublin. They had queues up to five hours,” he said.
“The queues this morning here in Sydney and Melbourne were 30 minutes. That’s long and, again, I apologise for those, but this is an issue [as] we’re coming out of COVID, trying to manage the absenteeism levels that is hitting everybody around the globe, and with a massive peak of Easter.”