Air travel still below pre-COVID levels

Air travel still below pre-COVID levels

Air travel still below pre-COVID levels

Passenger traffic through Sydney Airport remains less than 75 per cent of the pre-pandemic level, with international travel lagging even further.

Sydney Airport’s passenger data for July shows almost two million domestic passengers and 844,000 international passengers passed through the airport, down 15.5 per cent and 42.2 per cent on the same month in 2019.

The airport’s chief executive Geoff Culbert said the aviation industry could not cope with a return to pre-pandemic traffic levels, with passenger demand recovering faster than the workforce.

“Everyone across the industry is working hard to rebuild their teams, but with the ongoing labour shortages it’s going to take time,” Mr Culbert said in a statement on Tuesday.

As the nation’s border restrictions lifted this year airports have struggled to cope as staff shortages and illnesses meant numerous flights have been cancelled or delayed, bags lost and chaotic scenes at airports left passengers in long queues that at times snaked outside.

Qantas has acknowledged it has struggled with the return to skies in recent months, announcing on Monday it would provide $50 flight discounts.

“Over the past few months, too many of you have had flights delayed, flights cancelled and bags misplaced, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a video sent to members of the airline’s loyalty program.

“There are good reasons why, but when it comes to what you expect from Qantas, it’s not good enough.”

Virgin Australia on Monday announced the return of special lanes for its loyal passengers to get them through security quicker and avoid the long queues that have stretched through airports this year.

Eligible passengers flying from Brisbane will be able to use the premium entry once more and a priority screening lane will re-open at Melbourne.

The scheme is targeted at business passengers and is only available from 5am to 10am.

“We know time is important for our most frequent flyers, and our expanded security facilities in Brisbane and Melbourne are a ticket for loyal guests to quickly move through the screening process,” a Virgin spokesperson said.

An agreement is yet to be reached with Sydney Airport for Virgin premium entry.


Jack Gramenz
(Australian Associated Press)

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