Thousands of Australians had their domestic flights cancelled in the hours building up to Christmas as frontline workers were asked to test and isolate due to an increase in Covid cases.
On Friday, at least 117 domestic flights planned to depart from Sydney and Melbourne were cancelled.
According to a Sydney Airport official, 80 of the 500 domestic flights scheduled to arrive and depart Sydney on Friday have been cancelled.
Jetstar flights were among the many that were cancelled on Friday, as the airline was unable to staff all of its scheduled routes due to Covid testing and isolation requirements.
“Unfortunately, a considerable number of our frontline team members, like many others in Sydney and Melbourne, are being compelled to test and isolate as close contacts, given the increasing number of cases in the general community.” As a result, we’ve had to make some last-minute itinerary changes,” stated a Jetstar representative.
The airline rebooked “the vast majority” of stranded passengers “within a few hours of their original departure time so they can reach to their destination in time for Christmas,” according to the spokeswoman.
“We understand how inconvenient these schedule changes are for customers, and we truly apologise for the disruption to their travel plans,” she said.
While Jetstar was forced to cancel flights at the last minute, Qantas and Virgin Australia notified passengers earlier this week that flights scheduled for Friday had been cancelled.
The majority of Qantas’ cancellations were made to combine services owing to lower-than-expected demand over the Christmas period, and the airline is not experiencing workforce shortages, according to reports.
According to a Virgin Australia spokesperson, only one unplanned flight cancellation was announced on Friday, with passengers booked on other cancelled services for Friday being notified earlier this week and the majority of passengers transferring to other flights within an hour of their original booking.
Meanwhile, the need that tourists demonstrate a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival into areas such as Queensland and Tasmania is driving to huge lines at Covid-19 testing centres and delays in receiving results across the country.
Despite the New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, saying she had already agreed to such a measure to help his state address the burden of “tourism testing,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said late Thursday that no final decision had been reached on substituting PCR tests for rapid tests at border crossings.