Sydney Airport delays, flight cancellations amid school holiday rush, lack of staff

Passengers are being told to arrive as close as possible to two hours before their domestic flight to help Sydney Airport manage crowds, as school holidays and staff shortages cause delays.

Wet weather conditions have contributed to some delays and cancellations, but the most significant factors have been the school holiday season rush and the airport struggling to replace about 15,000 staff it shed during the pandemic.

A mass of passengers navigate confusing queues at Sydney Domestic Terminal 2 on Saturday.

A mass of passengers navigate confusing queues at Sydney Domestic Terminal 2 on Saturday.Credit:Oscar Colman

Queues at Sydney Domestic Airport Terminal 2 snaked outside the terminal on Saturday, impacting airlines including Jetstar and Virgin.

With delays expected to continue until at least July 18, Sydney Airport is asking domestic passengers not to be tempted to arrive more than two hours before their departure time.

“We’ve tested the two-hour window and it’s the sweet spot,” an airport spokeswoman said. “Don’t allow three hours, don’t allow four hours, just allow the two hours or as close as possible.”

For international flights, travelers are advised to arrive as close as possible to three hours before their flight.

“We won’t sugar-coat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues.”

Geoff Culbert, Sydney Airport chief executive

It’s especially important for people who will be going through the airport at peak times during the day including between 5am and 9am, and from about 3pm in the afternoon.

A significant job shortage at Sydney Airport is also contributing to pressures. During the pandemic, the airport lost about half of its 33,000 staff across 800 businesses, including airlines, baggage handling, security, shops and cafes and cleaning.

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