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Thousands of staff to be hired in Sydney airport after easter chaos

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In preparation for high travel demand over the July school holidays, Sydney Airport has announced that it is hiring hundreds of more personnel across multiple aspects of its operations.

It comes after an influx of passengers, combined with personnel shortages, resulted in hours-long lines at airports, increasing cancellations, and travelers missing flights in April.

On Wednesday, the airport said that approximately 5,000 positions are presently open across 800 different departments, including retail, hospitality, cleaning, security, and airport ground handler employment.

Sydney Airport announced that a jobs fair will be held on level 3 of its T1 International Terminal on Thursday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help potential employees find positions with over 40 firms within the airport. On-the-spot job applications will be accepted.

“Fifteen thousand jobs were lost at the airport during the pandemic and even though everyone started recruiting heavily when borders looked like opening, we’ve still got 5,000 roles to fill,” said Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert.

“Our security contractor and ground handlers have been advertising jobs since December and have brought 500 staff on board since the start of the year, but they have another 1,200 roles to go which is incredibly challenging in this market.”

Despite this, the airport continues to encourage travelers wishing to fly during the high July school holiday season to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before foreign flights.

“In the lead up to the holidays it will be busy, but we are doing everything we can to make sure people get away on time, including bringing people forward through the queues according to flight priority,” Culbert said.

“Labour shortages are hitting every sector in the economy, and we want to thank everyone who is traveling during this period for their patience as we rebuild the sector.”

It comes after it was discovered that domestic flight delays in April were at an all-time high, with nearly 40% of arrivals and departures missing their scheduled times owing to operational instability over the Easter holiday.

The delays during the holidays drew widespread national attention, with massive snaking queues at check-in, bag drop, and security at airports across the country.

At the same time, in the days running up to Easter, Sydney Airport was forced to cancel scores of flights.

Passengers became increasingly dissatisfied as a result of missed and canceled flights, as well as additional stress from being unable to travel for two years.

Both Sydney Airport and Qantas blamed the long lines in part on the customers, however many passengers claimed there was an obvious staffing issue, with security lanes and check-in offices shuttered and non-operational.

As stories initially emerged of holiday-induced turmoil in Sydney, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed delays on “not match fit” travelers.

“I went through the airports on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops, they have to take out their aerosols … so that is taking longer to get through the [security] queue,” he said.

COVID close-contact rules, he said, were causing “high levels of absenteeism” of up to 18%, but NSW Health later relaxed the rules for aviation workers, allowing them to return to work with a mask if they show no symptoms and test negative for COVID, even if someone in their household had tested positive.

It came after Culbert made similar remarks, blaming the rising wait times on a “perfect storm” of COVID isolation, holiday demand, and rusty travelers.

“We would like to apologize to passengers who are being inconvenienced and would like to thank people who are getting to the airport early, wearing their masks and making sure they are prepared for their check-in and security processes,” he said at the time.

“Traffic numbers are picking up, travelers are inexperienced after two years of not traveling, and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport.

“We encourage everyone to get to the airport early and we ask everyone to be patient as the industry gets back on its feet.”

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