Sydney airport faces continue delays as workers isolate

SYDNEY :Prolonged delays at Australia's busiest airport, Sydney Airport, has seen travelers waiting hours amid worker shortages and a rush for domestic travel ahead of the Easter holidays.

   The disruptions have now entered into the fourth day as travelers have crowded the airport for getaways since last Friday morning, with Saturday being the first day of the Easter school holidays.

   One such traveler, Rock, traveled from Sydney Airport to Fiji on Friday. He told Xinhua that security was a "complete mess" with long lines spilled outside.

   "By the time we got through, close to an hour and a half later we had to run to our gate, no food. Our plane left an hour late and not everyone made it," he said on Monday.

   Sydney Airport chief executive officer Geoff Culbert apologised to passengers for the delays and said they were caused by a "perfect storm" of COVID-19, school holidays, and inexperienced travelers.

   "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."

   CEO of Australia's national carrier, Qantas, Alan Joyce told national broadcaster ABC that up to half of the airline's workforce were isolating due to COVID-19.

   "We're getting absenteeism of around 20 percent, maybe some days in some areas up to 50 percent, and that means that we can't open up all the security lanes," said Joyce in a live broadcast.

   On Sunday the government of the state of New South Wales (NSW) added airport workers to a list of critical workers, exempting them from isolating should they come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

   "They must travel directly from their home to and from work, and must wear a mask in the workplace at all times except when eating or drinking. They must also undergo frequent rapid antigen testing for seven days," said a note from the NSW Health.

   Sydney airport is expected to remain busy over the Easter holidays and domestic travelers have been urged to arrive at the airport 2 hours early.

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