‘Absolute joke’: Chaos returns to Sydney Airport amid staff shortages

Staff shortages have caused more headaches for travellers, with Sydney Airport again descending into chaos on Monday.

Footage and photos emerged on social media showing hundreds of passengers in the airport’s domestic and international terminals stuck in lengthy queues following Mother’s Day weekend.

Customers took to social media on Monday morning to share their frustration at the “unacceptable” wait times.

“@SydneyAirport is an absolute joke!” one wrote on Twitter.

“The queue for immigration goes past the food court to the other side of the building. It’s embarrassing for a city like Sydney. It’s not good enough.”

One customer said it took more than an hour to get through security alone, with only five of 17 bays reportedly open to customers.

Another customer described the lines as “kilometres long”.

“I have never seen anything like this. The hashtag (#sydneyairport) shows this has been going on since April. Give yourself loads of time.”

Airport management confirmed to The New Daily that it was still struggling with staff shortages due to COVID.

“We have significant COVID-related staff shortages and we’re also working to rebuild our workforce in a really tight jobs market. Unfortunately this is an industry-wide issue and airports and airlines around the world are experiencing similar challenges.”

It again pleaded with passengers to arrive two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours ahead of an overseas flight.

Chaos first broke out at the start of the Easter holidays in April, which was the first holiday period since the start of the pandemic where domestic borders were open around the country.

Then, social media posts showed queues snaking around airport terminals in Sydney and Melbourne.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce had blamed “not match fit” travellers and a “high level” of staff absenteeism for the delays.

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert said the delays were caused by a range of factors, including “inexperienced” travellers and staff shortages.

“We’re facing a perfect storm at the moment,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“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.”

The delays played a key factor in state governments around the country adjusting their close contact rules. Asymptomatic household contacts of COVID cases are now clear to go to work in most states, as long as they use rapid tests.

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