The delays come as Qantas CEO Alan Joyce blamed customer habits and staff shortages for the extensive delays earlier today.
Mr Joyce advised travellers to arrive at least two hours early to accommodate for the delays.
‘Our customers are not match fit’
He also claimed customers are not “match fit” for flying after the COVID-19 pandemic caused many people not to travel.
“I went through the airport on Wednesday and people forget they need to take out their laptops and they need to take out their aerosols,” he said.
“So that is taking longer to get through the queue.”
Mr Joyce said “absenteeism” due to COVID-19 cases and close contacts is also causing the delays.
“Some days we come in and we have nearly 50 per cent absenteeism,” he said.
Mr Joyce flagged that aviation workers would be deemed essential workers and be exempt from close contact restrictions soon.
This would mean workers would only need to get a negative rapid antigen test and not have symptoms before returning to work.
Mr Joyce added this would “alleviate the pressure” and delays in the lead up to Easter.
Sydney Airport CEO apologises
Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert also apologised to customers, blaming the delays on a “perfect storm” of increased air traffic, “inexperienced” travellers thanks to the pandemic, and staffing issues caused by COVID-19 close contact rules.
He urged flyers to get to the airport early and be patient “as the industry gets back on its feet”.
Delays started on Thursday night
Videos and photos posted online showed overflowing airport terminals filled with queueing passengers.
Some Twitter users said they waited as long as an hour and a half to get to security, in a situation variously described as “chaos” and “absolutely insane”.
“Security line starts inside and snakes back and forth, then it goes outside and snakes back and forth, then you can go back inside and snakes back and forth,” Vow Food chief scientific officer James Ryall said on Twitter.
“Flights are delayed because they can’t get humans through fast enough!”
60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort simply said: “Sydney Airport WTF”.
University of New South Wales journalism lecturer Sue Stephenson described a “nightmare queue”.
“Thousands spilling over into carpark next to terminal,” she said.
“Only one officer controlling the crowd.
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“How many flights are going to be missed??”