Domestic air travel to hit post-COVID peak

Wednesday 13 April 2022

  • 82,000 passengers expected at Sydney Airport’s domestic terminals tomorrow
  • Domestic passengers asked to arrive two hours prior to flight departure
  • Car parks fully booked over Easter, passengers urged to use alternative transport options

The eve of the Easter long weekend will be the busiest day for domestic air travel in more than two years, with 82,000 passengers forecast to pass through Sydney Airport’s domestic terminals on Thursday 14 April.

It will represent the first time Sydney Airport’s domestic terminals have had more than 80,000 passengers since the 6 March 2020 and will surpass the previous post-COVID peak of 78,000 domestic passengers on Friday 8 April.

Labour shortages across security personnel, ground handlers, and airline staff means queuing will likely occur in the domestic terminals, and passengers are encouraged to arrive 2 hours prior to the departure of their domestic flights.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said: “I know it’s a difficult message to hear but Thursday is going to be another tough day for travellers, and I want to apologise in advance to anyone who is inconvenienced.

“Tomorrow and right through the school holidays we are pulling every lever available to us to get people on their way safely, including deploying senior executives and staff into our terminals to manage queues and ensure people make their flights.

“We’re also working with our security contractor, airlines, ground handlers and other operational agencies to make sure we have as many staff on the ground as possible for the morning and afternoon peaks.

“In the last few days we’ve seen the situation improve, but there is no avoiding the fact that significant queuing may occur over Easter. We continue to have up to 20% COVID-related staff absences on any given day and we’re working to rebuild our workforce in a really tight job market.

Domestic travellers urged to arrive two hours prior to flight departure

To assist in managing queuing and congestion domestic passengers are asked to arrive in the terminal two hours prior to the scheduled departure of their flight. Some airlines will only accept checked baggage within two hours of the scheduled departure time, so it’s important that passengers check online for their airline’s checked baggage policy.

The guidance for arriving ahead of international flights remains unchanged at three hours prior to departure.

In addition to arriving early, passengers are encouraged to check in online where possible and prepare for security screening by removing aerosols and laptops from hand luggage.

Additionally, the Airport’s domestic car parks are fully booked over the Easter long-weekend and passengers without a pre-booked space are being urged to use alternative transport options.

Rebuilding workforce ‘will take time’

The arrival of the Easter school holiday peak comes as Sydney Airport’s security contractor, Certis, rebuilds its workforce following the pandemic.

Certis’ workforce is 30% below its pre-COVID staffing levels and the security contractor has been recruiting since December for more than 100 security screening roles.

50 new screening staff are currently undergoing accreditation and will gradually become available for shifts in the coming weeks. The process to train screening staff to an accredited level takes two months, meaning staff who are coming online today joined the security operator in mid-February.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said: “Certis began recruiting in December with the prospect of travel restrictions easing in 2022.

“While they are getting people in the door, it is taking longer than we had hoped due to the incredibly tight labour market. The roles that are being recruited are skilled, specialist roles and we won’t compromise on safety and security.

“As more staff join in the weeks and months ahead, we expect some of the security challenges to ease, but rebuilding the workforce will take time.

“The workforce shortages we are facing are cutting across almost every sector in Australia and, in the aviation industry, we’ve seen similar scenes play out with airports and airlines globally.

“We are extremely grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and also to our airport staff who have been working incredibly hard in really difficult circumstances.”

Sydney Airport daily domestic passenger forecast to 26 April

DateForecast Domestic Passengers
14 April 202282,000
15 April 2022 - Good Friday79,000
16 April 2022 - Easter Saturday56,000
17 April 2022 - Easter Sunday62,000
18 April 2022 - Easter Monday72,000
19 April 202269,000
20 April 202269,000
21 April 202277,000
22 April 202282,000
23 April 202259,000
24 April 202264,000
25 April 2022 - Anzac Day72,000
26 April 202267,000

Contact for further information

For any questions relating to travel, please contact your airline or email