Sydney airport chaos worsens ahead of Easter in global travel crisis

·News Reporter
·5-min read

Airports around Australia remain rife with chaos with the Easter long weekend causing extensive delays for travellers — but the issue may not be resolved any time soon.

Thousands of passengers have faced frustrating delays all week as a result of staffing issues due to Covid, school holiday rushes and "inexperienced travellers".

However, it's not just Aussies who are feeling the pressure, with some airports and airlines around the world experiencing similar challenges.

"Unfortunately, this is an industry-wide issue," a Sydney Airport spokesperson told The New Daily.

Huge crowds at Sydney airport on Thursday.
Thousands of passengers have faced frustrating delays at airports all week. Source: AAP

Passengers fume at overwhelmed airports

Wild scenes have continued at Sydney domestic terminal, with people queued out the door from as early as 4am on Thursday. Customers were asked to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights.

Customers have had to wait hours to pass through check-in desks and security with some lines reportedly up to a kilometre long.

ABC reporter Harriet Tatham offered a glimpse of the morning mayhem admitting that queues were "out the door" at 4:20am.

"The airport only opened at 4am. Photos don’t do it justice. Everyone is being told you have to be in line 2 hours before you depart," she shared on Twitter.

By 9am, one traveller said things were "moving smoothly".

"Bag drop is the longest line but it’s not too long. Everyone is friendly and patient," she said.

Afternoon passengers said the crowds had begun to clear.

Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide airports have also seen customers face long lines and substantial delays.

Australian airports experience busiest day in two years

Australian airports are experiencing the busiest day in two years with 82,000 people expected to pass through Sydney’s domestic terminals on Thursday.

Between Thursday and Easter Monday, some 350,000 people are expected to move through Sydney Airport alone.

"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.

Last Friday, Mr Culbert said "we’re facing a perfect storm at the moment," which is contributing to the airport chaos.

“Traffic numbers are picking up, travellers are inexperienced after two years of not travelling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport," he told Yahoo News Australia.

Airport delays worldwide: 'Awful'

Some airports around the world have reported similar issues, but that is to be expected, one expert tells Yahoo News Australia.

"The airport delays highlight a perfect storm for travel globally whereby pent-up demand due to Covid, and school and public holidays have collided with reduced staffing due to Covid and out of practice tourists and systems, to create these delays," Professor Kirsten Holmes from Curtin University said.

"Over two years of significantly reduced travel means we have forgotten about peak travel times and the associated crowding and delays."

Dublin airport in Ireland, as well as Manchester and Birmingham airports in the UK, have experienced long delays and overcrowding since March, with staff shortages mostly to blame.

One man who flew last week said to "avoid [Dublin Airport] at all costs, saying it was "awful" with "stressed and upset passengers".

An airport spokesperson said travellers have been urged not to arrive at Dublin airport too early, as this contributes to extensive delays, and does not help customers avoid them.

"Arriving earlier than needed has been found to increase pressure at busy times over recent days and weeks," they told The Independent.

Delays to continue: 'Growing demand for domestic travel'

As "the tourism system reactivates, airport delays are inevitable", Associate Professor Brent Moyle from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management at Griffith Business School told Yahoo News Australia on Thursday.

"With continued uncertainty on entry requirements, travellers are experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety, which is compounded by extended delays due to isolation requirements of airport and contract staff.

"I would advise that travellers are patient and understanding during this holiday period, we need to be grateful tourism is reactivating and we have an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, rebuild the tourism economy, and reaffirm our relationship with the iconic destinations we are fortunate to have on our doorstep in Australia," he said.

Dr Sharif Rasel, lecturer in International Business at Flinders University, said the delays we are seeing "signal a growing demand for domestic tourism in times of uncertainty".

"Recent rise in jet fuel cost has increased international airfares, the Russian invasion in Ukraine has significantly affected the global tourism market, and the lockdown in Shanghai has lowered consumer confidence to travel overseas," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"I believe that all these factors influence the consumer choice. The tourists are looking for cheaper and more reliable tourist destinations within Australia."

With AAP

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