Holiday chaos returns to airports – with worse to come

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Travelers are being told to prepare for more airport chaos over the coming school holidays, as airports rush to fill thousands of vacancies – with long queues again in major centers on Friday.

Passengers were forced to queuing for hours during the Easter period because staff shortages and rising demand are putting enormous pressure on airport services.

There were also reports of more chaos in Sydney and Melbourne on Friday morning ahead of the Queen’s Day long weekend. At 8 am there were queues outside the terminals in both cities.

Melbourne Airport management warned travelers to arrive early and said it expected the busiest day since the start of the pandemic. Domestic travelers were urged to arrive two hours before flights, while it was three hours for those going abroad.

Baggage drop-off problems were also reported in both major cities, leading to further chaos and delays.

Aviation experts have warned travelers to brace for more similar delays during the winter break.

In a media statement promoting 5000 job openings at 800 organizationsSydney Airport advised passengers on Wednesday to arrive at the airport two hours before departure for domestic flights and three hours before departure for international flights, have made similar recommendations at Easter

Aviation adviser Neil Hansford, chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, said queues will likely be as long during the July school holidays as they were during Easter, as airports will struggle to fill their vacancies on time.

“I don’t believe the facilities are there to recruit people, to interview people, but mainly to get their security clearance and be trained in time to be effective,” said Mr Hansford of the airport recruiting campaign.

In sign of the severe labor shortages plaguing the travel and tourism sector, both Sydney Airport and Melbourne Airport have announced job fairs ahead of the school holidays in July.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said 15,000 jobs were lost during the pandemic and 5,000 more jobs need to be replaced – “even though everyone started recruiting heavily when the borders seemed to be opening”.

“Our security contractor and ground handlers have been advertising jobs since December and have brought 500 employees on board since the beginning of the year, but they still have 1,200 positions to go, which is an incredible challenge in this market,” said Mr. Culbert.

During the Easter rush, a passenger from Sydney said it took over an hour to get through security alone, with… only five of the 17 bays are reportedly open to customers

A spokesman for Melbourne Airport said: The new daily newspaper on Thursday that the airport was working to prevent a repeat of the travel chaos at Easter.

But they admitted that baggage handling proved to be a persistent pain point as airlines struggled to attract enough staff with customers returning en masse and many employees stuck at home with COVID.

The national secretary of the Transport Workers Union, Michael Kaine, said the airports would struggle to fill their vacancies because the work is low-paid and insecure.

“The pandemic has exposed aviation vulnerabilities,” Kaine said.

“Besides low-paying part-time or casual jobs, there is more risk than incentive to get into the industry.”

But the airports hope financial benefits will lure workers back, with ads for Sydney Airport baggage handlers offering $2,000 sign-up bonuses.

No longer ‘match fit’

Echoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s previous claims that Australians were no longer “match-fit” travelers after years spent at home during the pandemicMr Hansford said passengers also had to take their share of the blame for the Easter delays.

Mr Hansford said: The new daily newspaper many had forgotten what was required of them at the airport and had to educate themselves before flying again.

“If the travelers have taught themselves what it takes, and [airports] If you build up the number of security guards, they’ll get through a lot better both domestically and internationally,” he said.

He gave the following tips for passengers going to the airport during the July school holidays:

  • Prepare for the security check: Don’t wear anything with metal in it (check everything from your jewelry to your shoes), and get your electronics out of your bag while waiting in line
  • Avoid excess baggage: If you have a 28kg baggage allowance, avoid tempting the lot and pack under that weight, or prepay excess baggage online
  • Get there early: When booking a plane ticket, you should get advice on how early you should be at the airport. If the recommendation is two hours in advance, make sure to get there by that time, or even earlier if you’re traveling during a peak period
  • Saying goodbye at home: Bringing more people to the airport for goodbyes can add to the chaos during peak times, so consider saying goodbye somewhere else.


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