Sydney airport delays hit travelers with queues snaking out of terminals

Travelers at Sydney Airport were again hit by long delays on Monday morning with check-in queues spilling out of the terminal.

An airport spokesperson said staff shortages were to blame for the extended waiting times as queues stretched over 150 meters to get through security at domestic terminals.

“Our security contractor has had significant staff sick leave today, meaning some security screening lanes were unable to open,” the spokesperson said.

“We have customer service personnel on the ground who bring passengers forward according to flight priority.

“We apologize for the disruption and are working hard to get everyone on their way.”

Certis, contracted by Sydney Airport to provide security screening services, has struggled to restore its workforce to pre-Covid levels and has offered incentives to staff to turn up for work.

Passengers took to social media to vent their frustration, reporting wait times of more than an hour to board Monday morning.

Guardian Australia reporter Josh Taylor described the Virgin domestic terminal as “a mess”, posting a photograph of the queue snaking well outside the door.

Similar screening delays affected Jetstar and Qantas flights, with a “queue shed” set up at the domestic terminal to manage crowd control.

One passenger, Mendy Stein, had waited an hour outside Monday morning just to get through to the security line inside the terminal.

Sydney Airport was named one of the world’s worst airports last month after being plagued by weeks of cancellations and delays.

Data compiled by flight tracking and data platform FlightAware ranked Sydney sixth worst for flight cancellations, with 5.9% of flights cancelled, and ninth worst for delays, with 34.2% of flights affected.

Extreme weather, school holidays and a lack of staff have been to blame for the long queues and travel disruptions. The airport’s managing director has estimated that 15,000 jobs have been lost through the pandemic.

At a job fair held at the airport in June, Geoff Culbert warned the delays would continue “for a while longer”. “This is the tightest labor market we’ve seen in 40 years,” he said. “We have 5,000 jobs that we need to fill, and it’s going to take time.”

The delays come after a shooting at Canberra airport led to an evacuation on Sunday afternoon.

A man was arrested after allegedly firing about five shots, some of which left bullet holes in terminal windows, around 1:30 p.m. Planes were grounded for hours while other parts of the airport were locked down. No injuries were reported.

Also on Sunday, a flight from Sydney to Hobart was forced to divert to Melbourne after an engine failure.

A Qantas spokesman said the plane, a Boeing 717, made an emergency priority landing on Sunday afternoon after pilots received a cockpit warning of an engine problem, followed by a loud noise in one of the engines.

“The pilots followed all standard procedures … the aircraft landed safely and without incident,” they said. “Engineers are inspecting the aircraft. We understand this would have been an unsettling experience for our customers.”

A passenger on board the plane reported hearing a “tremendous bang” and experiencing “the plane shaking as if it was going to fall apart”.

Crew returned to work, while passengers were put on flights to Hobart, Qantas said.

A spokesperson for the Australian Transport Safety Agency confirmed that the issue had been reported and that they were “collecting further information at this stage”.

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