Airports Worldwide Clogged with Queues As Travel Rebounds
Understaffed airports and airlines from Australia to Europe are trying to keep up with a new influx of passengers, resulting in long waits and flight cancellations which are likely to continue as Easter holiday approaches.
The aviation sector laid off hundreds of thousands of employees in order to survive the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, airports and airlines are short-staffed to manage an increase in travel as most of the globe relaxes entrance rules.
Passengers arriving at Sydney Airport this week had to wait for hours in lines that reached to outside of the terminals.
Staff absenteeism at Qantas Airways Ltd. is as high as 50%, and the airport’s staff is less than half its regular size. On some days the airport can find itself running at 60% staff capacity while having to process more than 80% of pre-Covid passenger volumes.
The recovery in several key markets, particularly the United States, has taken airlines and airports off guard. Smaller markets like Thailand and Singapore, which have yet to reopen to the same extent, are not seeing the same delays.
This week, vacationers in the United Kingdom will experience long lines. In March, about 4.2 million passengers travelled through London’s Heathrow Airport, a more than the sevenfold increase from the previous year.
Border Force personnel from Scotland and Northern Ireland are being sent to assist reduce waits at the airport, which is scrambling to hire 12,000 new employees after the United Kingdom eased travel restrictions.
Qantas has invited unsponsored pilots to join three international flights and many local services that are dangerously short of the crew on Wednesday.