Airport travellers facing Easter chaos


Sydney Airport is preparing for its busiest day in two years as travellers fly out for Easter holidays, with passengers queuing up as staff shortages strain systems.

Early on Wednesday traffic around the domestic airport was backed up for a kilometre, while queues outside the terminal snaked back for up to 100 metres.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said the situation has improved in recent days, but passengers will be trapped in long queues as they wait to board flights with an expected increase in traffic through the end of the week.

About 350,000 people are expected to pass through Sydney Airport between Thursday and Easter Monday.

More than 82,000 domestic passengers are expected to travel on Thursday alone as people get away for the long weekend.

The last time more than 80,000 passengers went through the terminal was in early March 2020.

Mr Culbert apologised in advance on Wednesday afternoon, saying Thursday would be another tough day for travellers. 

“We are pulling every lever available to us to get people on their way safely, including deploying senior executives and staff into our terminals to manage queues and ensure people make their flights,” Mr Culbert said.

The airport would usually boost its resources to cater for increased holiday traffic but was struggling to find staff, with up to 20 per cent of staff being absent due to COVID-19 or isolation protocols daily, he said.

The shortages have resulted in senior executives and staff being sent to airport terminals to manage queues and help people get to their flights.

“We are pulling every lever available to us to get people on their way safely,” Mr Culbert said.

Security queues were moving well at T2 domestic terminal on Wednesday morning, while check-in wait times were peaking at about half an hour, a Sydney Airport spokesman told AAP.

Passengers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

Mr Culbert advised people to check-in online if possible and avoid bringing checked baggage if they could.

Other airports are preparing for increased traffic over the Easter weekend, with expectations it will be the busiest time of the last two years.

Melbourne Airport on Wednesday confirmed it had more domestic passengers come through its terminals than it did in March 2020, when COVID-19 began to take hold in Australia and eventually halted travel.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the growth was pleasing but presented challenges, because thousands of skilled workers had been stood down or made redundant during the pandemic.

“Given the safety-critical nature of the jobs they do, recruitment and re-training can take time,” Mr Strambi said.

Adelaide Airport expects 25,000 people through its recently expanded terminal on Thursday and again on Friday.

Brisbane Airport expects more than 50,000 passengers on Thursday.