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Why are there so many Flight and Airport delays in 2023

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

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Why are there so many airport delays?

The recent flight delays in all Australian Airports including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Hobart, and Perth have been due to many different factors affecting the aviation industry in these very dynamic and unstable conditions.

The measure used by airlines and airports to monitor scheduling and timing is called ‘OTP’, this is On-Time Performance and is monitored by all those responsible for the departure of an aircraft to make sure it leaves and arrives on time, generally within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time. Most airlines will target the High 80%-90% target before Covid-19, however. For airlines like Qantas, REX, Virgin Australia, and Virgin Australia Regional the average has been 63% according to the Bureau of Transport. Last year's flight OTP in June was 84% compared to this year's 63% meaning there was a 21% increase in delays this year compared to last.

Airport Weather Delays:

Recently in Sydney and around the country including Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, there have been significant weather delays due to the El Nina weather event (rains and flooding on the east coast), storms, and fog. There is not much you can do about the weather apart from being prepared for delays, diversions, and cancellations. Recently I have written an article about how to get the best out of your delays and cancellations.

Ground Handler Airport Delays:

Other than the weather, the lack of human resources to keep flights departing on time is down as many people left their jobs when they were laid off during Covid-19 and had only the government support package. A lot of those workers have not returned to the aviation sector after finding work elsewhere and deciding to change into more stable and well-paying industries. Due to the lack of incentives and enticements the baggage handling Union is now looking at striking as they are pushed to the limit; Struggling with reduced staff numbers working behind the scenes, high sickness rates, and a lack of new recruitments due to low unemployment. The union is now seeking better pay including an updated contract to entice and keep current and future employees happy. Ground Services like Dnata, Toll, and private company ground services have not only been the ones struggling to get workers, but the recent lack of current and trained pilots is also impacting the flight delays around Australia.

Flight Crew and Pilot Airport Delays:

The pilot body is currently doing all they can to help and reduce flight delays around Australia, Some pilots have come off 2 years of reduced flying and the training required to get them up to the high standards set by the Civil Australian Safety Authority. Most pilots are back flying and current now, however, the delays coming from ground services, and airline changes create a nightmare for pilots when they have to undergo delays, changes in aircraft, or rostering. Aviation is very dynamic and when there are multiple changes the pilots can only do their best however can not go over their Flight and Duty times. Hence a delay of 2 hours may push a pilot/pilot to be changed from that flight as they could not legally conduct the flight. When a change of crew occurs this can take hours to resolve as the crew scheduler will have to call a pilot off reserve and that can take up to 2 hours delay to get the pilots in the airport and ready for departure.

Airport Check-in and Security Delays:

Recent flight delays have not been due to the check-in process or airport security, the delays were due to airport security personnel, sickness rates, and increased numbers of those traveling through the airports without the right planning and predictions to get airports ready for the intake of people willing and happy to resume travel after Covid-19. Airport security like pilots requires training and a lot of the services at the airports are contracts based, it takes at least 2 weeks to train a security officer and due to the reduction of airport personnel coming back to their jobs after Covid-19, it's been hard for them to train the right candidates up and get them ready for normal airport operations. During the opening of airports after covid-19 airports were physically not ready for the increase in passenger demand and had not planned to open enough security lanes. This has since been rectified and should not be an issue anymore.

If you would like to navigate and reduce the chances of a delay on your flight then read this article that helps you navigate and predict the chances of a delay on your flight.


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