Qantas, Virgin on-time performance hits near record low as passengers face delays, cancellations

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Two of Australia’s major airlines are performing at some of their worst levels in history as frustrated travelers face delays and cancellations caused by severe weather and staff sick with Covid-19.

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More than half of Qantas and Virgin passengers saw their flight either delayed or completely canceled last week, in a horror seven days for the two airlines.

Qantas canceled 6.7 percent of domestic flights with an on-time performance of 44 percent, while Virgin had double the cancellations of its rival airline at 14.7 percent and only 43 percent of flights departing on-time.

Qantas and Virgin's on-time performance hits a near record low after more than half of all domestic flights in the first week of July were delayed or canceled (pictured, passengers waiting at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia)

Qantas and Virgin's on-time performance hits a near record low after more than half of all domestic flights in the first week of July were delayed or canceled (pictured, passengers waiting at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia)

Qantas and Virgin’s on-time performance hits a near record low after more than half of all domestic flights in the first week of July were delayed or canceled (pictured, passengers waiting at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia)

Figures compiled by the airlines showed Qantas canceled 6.7 percent of flights and had an on-time performance of 44 percent, while Virgin had a cancellation rate of 14.7 percent with a 43 percent on-time performance rate (pictured, domestic terminal Sydney Airport)

Figures compiled by the airlines showed Qantas canceled 6.7 percent of flights and had an on-time performance of 44 percent, while Virgin had a cancellation rate of 14.7 percent with a 43 percent on-time performance rate (pictured, domestic terminal Sydney Airport)

Figures compiled by the airlines showed Qantas canceled 6.7 percent of flights and had an on-time performance of 44 percent, while Virgin had a cancellation rate of 14.7 percent with a 43 percent on-time performance rate (pictured, domestic terminal Sydney Airport)

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A Qantas spokesperson said severe weather on the east coast of Australia was the major driver for delays and cancellations which was further exacerbated by staff sick with the flu and Covid-19.

‘It was a pretty challenging week all around,’ a Qantas spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We appreciate how frustrating flight cancellations and delays are for customers with severe weather in New South Wales and a spike in Covid cases for operating crew impacting airline schedules over the past week.’

Qantas said 85 percent of domestic flights departed within an hour of their scheduled time as the airline used additional crew they had on standby and larger aircraft for some flights.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Virgin for comment.

Passengers are urged to be mindful of delays and cancellations as severe weather and staff shortages caused hour-long delays and cancellations (pictured, Jetstar flight rescheduling poster at Sydney Airport)

Passengers are urged to be mindful of delays and cancellations as severe weather and staff shortages caused hour-long delays and cancellations (pictured, Jetstar flight rescheduling poster at Sydney Airport)

Passengers are urged to be mindful of delays and cancellations as severe weather and staff shortages caused hour-long delays and cancellations (pictured, Jetstar flight rescheduling poster at Sydney Airport)

However, it’s not just illness among airline staff that is causing massive delays – the air traffic control team has also experienced staff shortages.

Airservices Australia confirmed on Monday that 10 percent of its air traffic control team was absent last week, according to The Australian.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said there was a ‘real staffing crisis in aviation’ caused by a third of the workforce leaving the industry unable to receive government assistance during the pandemic.

We’re seeing the consequences of those decisions play out in delays and disruption across the country. Nobody likes seeing flights canceled or delayed,’ Ms. King said.

‘The government will keep working with industry and unions to rebuild the aviation workforce, but the truth is that replacing the experience and expertise that has been lost cannot be done overnight.’

Qantas (pictured) said severe weather on the east coast of Australia was the major driver for delays and cancellations which was further exacerbated by staff sick with the flu and Covid-19

Qantas (pictured) said severe weather on the east coast of Australia was the major driver for delays and cancellations which was further exacerbated by staff sick with the flu and Covid-19

Qantas (pictured) said severe weather on the east coast of Australia was the major driver for delays and cancellations which was further exacerbated by staff sick with the flu and Covid-19

As a result of Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns, Qantas cut 9,400 jobs while Virgin cut 3,000 jobs and fell into bankruptcy.

Airlines desperate for workers have been racing to hire staff to meet post-pandemic travel demands – with Qantas recruiting 1,000 people since April 2022.

It comes after chaotic scenes emerged from Sydney Airport earlier this month when airlines struggled to cope with thousands of passengers during the school holiday rush.

Passengers at Sydney Airport on July 2 endured massive delays to check in their luggage as huge crowds crammed together in long queues.

The T2 domestic terminal ground to a halt as flights were delayed and canceled as airlines grappled with tens of thousands of passengers.

The lines zigzagged through the terminal and even stretched outside with travelers told to arrive exactly two hours before their flight to help the airport manage crowds.

“We’ve tested the two-hour window and it’s the sweet spot,” an airport spokeswoman said last week.

‘Don’t allow three hours, don’t allow four hours, just allow the two hours or as close as possible.’

Sydney Airport predicted 2.1 million visitors would be going through its gates between June 27 and July 17 while Qantas and Jetstar anticipated 350,000 travelers in the first weekend of July.

The aviation industry has experienced a 'real staffing crisis' after a third of the workforce left during the pandemic - during that time, Virgin Airlines (pictured) fell into bankruptcy and cut 3,000 jobs

The aviation industry has experienced a 'real staffing crisis' after a third of the workforce left during the pandemic - during that time, Virgin Airlines (pictured) fell into bankruptcy and cut 3,000 jobs

The aviation industry has experienced a ‘real staffing crisis’ after a third of the workforce left during the pandemic – during that time, Virgin Airlines (pictured) fell into bankruptcy and cut 3,000 jobs

Delays are expected to continue until at least July 18.

The Bureau of Infrastructure Transport Research Economics on-time performance data for the month of May showed Qantas at 60.7 percent with a 7.1 percent cancellation rate.

Virgin Airlines had an on-time performance rate of 65.7 percent and a cancellation rate of 5 percent.

Official on-time performance figures for last month are not due until late July.

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