Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin chaos and delays at Australia’s Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports


Chaos at Australia’s major airports with huge delays and cancellations as airlines struggle to cope with the school holiday rush after thousands of staff were sacked during the pandemic

  • Australia’s airports have been hit with huge passenger queues for the holidays 
  • There were chaotic scenes at Sydney Airport on Saturday as families tried to fly
  • Understaffed airports are struggling with the sudden increase in travellers

Family travel plans have been thrown into turmoil after airport chaos continued on Saturday as Aussies tried to jet off during the school holiday rush. 

Passengers at Sydney Airport endured massive delays to check in their luggage as huge crowds crammed together in lengthy queues snaking through the terminal . 

The T2 domestic terminal ground to a halt as the nation’s airports continue to struggle to cope with passenger numbers and a critical staffing shortage.

The lines zigzagged through the terminal and even stretched outside, with airlines including Jetstar and Virgin affected. 

Passengers are being told to arrive exactly two hours before their flight to help the airport manage crowds, with the delays expected to continue until at least July 18. 

Commuters wait to check their baggage at Sydney's T2 Domestic Airport Terminal in Sydney

Commuters wait to check their baggage at Sydney’s T2 Domestic Airport Terminal in Sydney

Queues of travellers gathered at the T2 Domestic Airport Terminal on Saturday as domestic airports continue struggle to cope with passenger numbers

Queues of travellers gathered at the T2 Domestic Airport Terminal on Saturday as domestic airports continue struggle to cope with passenger numbers

Passengers are being told to arrive two hours before their flight to help the airport manage crowds. The delays are expected to continue until at least July 18

Passengers are being told to arrive two hours before their flight to help the airport manage crowds. The delays are expected to continue until at least July 18

Sydney Airport predicted 2.1 million visitors would be flocking to the gates between June 27 and July 17

Sydney Airport predicted 2.1 million visitors would be flocking to the gates between June 27 and July 17

‘We’ve tested the two-hour window and it’s the sweet spot,’ an airport spokeswoman said. ‘Don’t allow three hours, don’t allow four hours, just allow the two hours or as close as possible.’

Under-staffed check-in counters, delays at security points and an influx of passengers have all been blamed for the chaotic scenes. 

The wet weather conditions are also believed to have contributed to the delays. 

Sydney Airport is facing a significant job shortage, after it shed about half of its 33,000 staff across the 800 business. 

‘There’s still a job shortage of about 5000 roles at the airport,’ the spokesperson said. 

Sydney Airport predicted 2.1 million visitors would be flocking to the gates between June 27 and July 17.

Qantas and Jetstar are expecting 350,000 passengers just for this weekend.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Airport is expecting 2.1 million passengers to pass through these school holidays, which is 400,000 more than over Easter.

Shocking scenes from the city’s main airports showed passengers waiting in huge lines on the first Saturday of the break, after many started arriving from 6am.       

Brisbane Airport also copped large crowds this week with some describing it as ‘outrageous’.

Families from NSW, Western Australia and the ACT will join the chaos on Friday afternoon. 

Sydney Airport had passengers waiting in lines that stretched out of the terminal and through the door in similar scenes of chaos last week

Sydney Airport had passengers waiting in lines that stretched out of the terminal and through the door in similar scenes of chaos last week 

Melbourne Airport travellers (pictured) face long wait times at security points and check-in counters

Melbourne Airport travellers (pictured) face long wait times at security points and check-in counters

Brisbane Airport crowds ramped up last week (pictured) as the state's school holidays began

Brisbane Airport crowds ramped up last week (pictured) as the state’s school holidays began

One passenger told The Courier-Mail last week: ‘The queues are outrageous and it’s clear the place is totally understaffed.’

‘How can we expect people to want to travel when they are confronted with scenes like this.’

Virgin Australia forecasted passenger levels would be up by 15 per cent these school holidays compared to the same time in 2019. 

It also said numbers would be ten per cent more than the previous Easter holidays. 

‘Both airlines carried similar numbers of customers domestically last weekend for the start of school holidays in Victoria and Queensland,’ a Qantas statement said.  

‘Both airlines have been putting in place measures to improve their operations and working with airports and suppliers to ensure customer disruptions are minimised over the holiday period.’ 

Under-staffed check-in counters, delays at security points and an influx of passengers have all been blamed for the chaotic scene

Under-staffed check-in counters, delays at security points and an influx of passengers have all been blamed for the chaotic scene

The Transport Workers’ Union said the airline industry faces a skills shortage since it sacked 12,500 employees during the pandemic. 

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said: ‘Little action has been taken since Easter to address the serious skills shortages we’ve seen in aviation caused by low wages, poor working conditions and collapsing safety standards.’

‘The workers that remain in the industry are under enormous pressure from airports and airlines to plug gaps and keep the gears moving.’

Australians have been taking up the long-awaited opportunities they didn’t have during the Covid pandemic restrictions in 2020 and 2021. 

Holidaymakers were forced to cancel and delay travel plans and were stuck in isolation across the country as each state and territory attempted to stamp out the disease. 

KPMG predicted in February last year that ‘restless Australian would-be travellers’ would come out of the woodwork after the tourism industry copped a thrashing in the pandemic. 

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