After being shut off to the world for two years during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s airports are bracing for an influx of passengers as school holidays begin.
Travellers should expect long queues, delayed flights and lost baggage, with airports adjusting to the busy season as they rebuild their decimated workforces after thousands were laid off due to a lack of flights.
“Our forecast shows the July school holidays are going to be even busier than what we saw in April,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said.
“It’s terrific to see the ongoing demand for air travel. But we won’t sugar-coat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues.”
Sydney Airport is forecasting more than two million passengers between June 24 and July 17, with 1.5 million of them expected to take a domestic flight.
Total passenger traffic recovered to 69 per cent of pre-COVID levels, the airport said.
Melbourne Airport is also expecting similar figures, with more than 2.1 million people predicted to pass through its terminals.
“The root cause of these challenges is that every business at the airport is rebuilding its workforce and doing it in the tightest jobs market in nearly half a century,” Mr Culbert said.
Qantas has borne the brunt of travellers’ ire on social media in recent days, with many reporting their bags missing and delayed flights.
The airline on Thursday said it was “pulling out all stops and working with airports and suppliers to ensure the upcoming holiday period is not impacted by the significant disruptions that customers faced over Easter”.
Along with its budget subsidiary Jetstar, it has recruited more than 1000 operational team members with 20 per cent more staff on stand-by rosters than during the Easter period.