Melbourne and Sydney airport crowds return to pre-pandemic levels on busy Queen’s Birthday long weekend

Crowds at Sydney and Melbourne airports have returned to pre-pandemic levels as travellers celebrate the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

Key points:

  • About 97,000 travellers are set to move through Melbourne Airport on Friday, the highest number since the pandemic hit
  • Airports are urging domestic travellers to arrive two hours before their flights
  • Staff shortages are exacerbating the delays, with thousands of job vacancies across the country

New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania will all mark the day on Monday, June 13, giving many a three-day weekend.

Airports in Sydney and Melbourne saw long queues this morning, but the situation has since calmed down.

As the south-east shivers through a colder-than-average winter, travellers in Victoria appear to be heading north for warmer weather.

Melbourne Airport said it was expecting about 97,000 travellers to pass through its terminals on Friday alone —  its busiest day since the pandemic hit. 

That’s more than the 90,000 passengers who passed through on Good Friday, a day of travel chaos for the country.

Travellers are being warned to allow extra time at Melbourne Airport.(ABC News: Roshai Murdoch)

Melbourne Airport spokesperson Andrew Lund said travellers should make sure to arrive on time.

“Certainly some check-in areas have been quite busy this morning,” he said about 8am.

“We’re advising people to arrive between one and two hours ahead of a domestic flight and two to three hours ahead of international flights.”

The airport said travellers should not arrive any earlier, as check-in would not be open.

Road traffic into the airport was also heavy on Friday morning.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 24 seconds1m 24s Melbourne Airport’s staff shortages are contributing to delays.

In Sydney, traffic had already banked up by 6am, with queues snaking through the entire building. At one terminal, the security screening line wrapped around outside.

About 80,000 travellers are expected to pass through the Sydney building on Friday, back to what would be expected on an average long weekend before the pandemic struck.

Some travellers told the ABC they had missed their flights, despite arriving on time.

Nearly 8 per cent of flights departing both Melbourne and Sydney airports up until 10:30am were cancelled, according to the airports’ departure trackers.

Airports need to fill thousands of job vacancies

Airport authorities are hoping it is not a repeat of the Easter weekend, which saw protracted delays, cancelled flights and missing luggage amid widespread staff shortages across the country.

Daily COVID-19 cases have dropped since the Easter peak, and close contact rules have been relaxed, freeing up more staff.

Queues at Sydney Airport went out the front door at one terminal.(ABC News: Kamin Gock)

But Sydney Airport currently has job vacancies for about 5,000 people across about 800 organisations. Its CEO says about 15,000 jobs were lost when the pandemic first hit.

It will host a “jobs fair” from next week in a bid to fill the roles and avoid chaos during the upcoming school holidays.

Melbourne Airport is also facing staff shortages, particularly in baggage handling.

Unions have said the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities in the aviation sector and have called for more security for workers.

Posted 3h ago3 hours agoThu 9 Jun 2022 at 10:21pm, updated 45m ago45 minutes agoFri 10 Jun 2022 at 1:17am

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