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Cancellations Increase In Australia

Hannah Dowling

August 3, 2022.

Australia’s domestic aviation market continues to struggle under the weight of COVID-19-related absences and an underlying shortage of trained aviation staff as flight cancellations crept up again this week. Flights to and from Sydney have been the most affected, with 25 domestic flights cancelled there so far. The majority of these flights were on the popular Sydney-Melbourne route, which remains the busiest sector in Australia.

Meanwhile, Brisbane has cancelled nine flights so far, around half of which were bound for Sydney, while Melbourne has axed three Sydney-bound flights.

According to a report by The Australian, the latest round of flight cancellations has been caused by understaffing amid a new wave of COVID-19 infections that is sweeping across Sydney. The state of New South Wales (NSW) reported another 90,000 new infections in the last seven days. There are now 175,083 active cases of COVID-19 in NSW, however, authorities believe the real figure could be significantly higher due to asymptomatic cases and individuals failing to report a positive result.

The disruption comes right off the back of a major nationwide “IT glitch” that saw Qantas flights around the country grounded and delayed by up to 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Qantas confirmed that it had resolved the computer issue by 6pm Sydney time that had impacted departing flights, however warned customers that knock-on delays would be likely throughout Sunday evening as the airline attempting to catch up.

Last week, Qantas Domestic and International chief executive Andrew David again apologised to customers for flight disruptions and said the airline will slash flight schedules in August to avoid chaos in the month ahead. David also defended the airline and blamed several external factors impacting the airline’s performance.

“We are the national carrier, people have high expectations of us and we have high expectations of ourselves. And clearly, over the law few months, we have not been delivering what we did pre-COVID,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also diverted blame for recent extensive delays and cancellations faced by travellers at Sydney airport over the last week, stating that errors with a baggage belt and the airport’s guidance system used to direct landing aircraft were behind the disruption.

David shrugged off suggestions that the cancellations and luggage issues were more significant than usual. “I can tell you our cancellation rate is now back close to where it was pre-COVID. It’s not quite there yet. I can tell you our mishandled bags [rate] is almost where it was pre-COVID too. On average pre-COVID we had about five mishandled bags in every 1000 … Yesterday was about seven, so we are close to that.”

It also comes after Sydney Airport ranked in the top ten worst airports in the world for both flight cancellations and flight delays.

According to new released by FlightAware, Sydney came in at number six in the top 10 worst airports for cancellations, after it clocked a 5.9 per cent cancellation rate over the last two months. Australia’s largest gateway was also named number nine in the list of worst airports for flight delays, with 34.2 per cent of all flights delayed in the last two months.

The worst global contenders for cancellations included Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and LaGuardia Airport, which all saw more than 7 per cent flights cancellation since May. Toronto Pearson International Airport was named the worst airport for delays with over 50 per cent of all flights affected.

© Hannah Dowling / Australian Aviation 2022
Image Seth Jaworski via Australian Aviation

Here in the United Kingdom we have a habit of knocking ourselves and being overly critical at every opportunity. This has included recovering from the effects of government response to COVID-19, not least criticism aimed at the air transport industry.

As the report above shows (and has been demonstrated by earlier reports from the USA and Europe), the difficulties being experienced in the UK are the same as those of other countries.

This is because almost all countries worldwide did the same things in response to COVID-19. Almost all countries grounded their airlines and closed their airports, resulting in mass lay-offs of staff everywhere.

The results now were entirely predictable and whilst one might possibly criticise airlines and airports for not being ready to start recruiting and re-employing people more efficiently, such criticism misses the real culprits; governments and politicians worldwide.

Their actions are the cause of the problems now being seen and the cause of problems still to come.


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