Chaos has continued for Australians trying to leave Sydney with scenes of mammoth queues and hopeful travellers captured crammed into the airport check in area.
Departures from the domestic terminal appeared worst affected, with a huge line photographed spewing out the doors and down the footpath.
The early-morning disruptions follow multiple rounds being fired inside Canberra Airport on Sunday. No one was injured and a 63-year-old man has been charged.
“As expected, Sydney Domestic is having some issues this morning. I wonder if this is extra security in place after the bizarre shooting incident at Canberra airport yesterday afternoon. Be glad if you aren’t flying this week,” someone wrote to Twitter.
Guardian journalist Josh Taylor described the situation a “mess”.
“Sydney domestic is still a mess. The queue to go through security screening is well out the door,” he tweeted, along with photos of the chaos.
“I thought post school holidays it’d be fine but nup,” he added.
A Sydney Airport spokesperson said the delays had been caused by a significant number of security staff calling in sick.
“Our security contractor has had significant staff sick leave today, meaning some security screening lanes were not able to be opened,” they told news.com.au.
“We have customer service staff on the ground bringing passengers forward according to flight priority. We are sorry about the disruption and working hard to get everyone on their way.”
One traveller said they waited hours to get through security and were almost late for their flight.
“God damn Sydney Airport … waited like almost two hours for security and sprinted to my bloody gate,” they tweeted.
The Age journalist Damien Ractliffe also shared a photo from inside the terminal.
“Cues at Sydney Airport for domestic departure … a lot of people will be missing flights today I’d say,” he tweeted.
Veteran political journalist Barrie Cassidy said the line outside was “150m long”.
Another hopeful passenger said there was “absolute chaos at Sydney Airport”.
Extreme staff shortages have plagued the travel industry in its post-Covid re-emergence, with airlines being brutally slammed recently over cancelled flights, missing baggage and poor customer service.
Qantas’ contingency plan
To alleviate some strain on its workforce, Qantas recently rolled out an extraordinary contingency program where senior executives and managers have stepped down from their usual roles to pitch in as ground handlers.
The program was expected to last three months and help the airline get back on its feet before the busy summer holiday period.
While the airline has rehired close to 2000 staff after letting about 1700 ground handlers go during the pandemic, it has continued to struggle with baggage, flight delays and cancellations.