Travel chaos at airports will only get worse as baggage handlers prepare to strike after their pay deal talks ground to a halt and another security issue hit check-in counters.
Sydney Airport was reportedly struck by a new computer glitch on Tuesday morning, impacting security screening and causing more check-in delays.
And a damning memo has revealed the safety fears of airport ground crew bosses during the current mayhem, which has been seen foreign workers shipped in to help.
Travel chaos at airports is set to worsen as baggage handlers prepare to strike after pay deal talks ground to a halt and another crippling security issue hits check-ins
Emirates-owned Dnata is the third party ground crew firm used by 20 airlines, including Qantas, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, after many axed their own staff during the pandemic.
But Dnata has now told their crews to ignore pressure from airline staff to work faster or cut corners after a series of incidents and accidents in the past fortnight.
Handlers buckling to demands to rush their work had caused ‘aircraft damage’ and ‘serious damage’ to ground crew transport, according to the leaked memo to staff.
‘The expression “Under the pump” needs to be removed from our collective vocabulary, especially where it is used to try and explain unsafe behaviours,’ the memo read, reported by the Daily Telegraph.
Ground staff at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will now vote at lunchtime on Tuesday on whether they should walk off the job over the safety concerns and a proposed pay deal.
There were similar scenes at Sydney Airport on Monday when early morning fog and tech issues saw hundreds forced to queue up outside the terminal.
Technical issues and early morning fog on Monday meant travelers had to wait outside the terminal as huge queues formed
Huge lines formed outside the terminal that then traced into the building on Monday
The airport apologized on Monday and said a technical issue caused one of its security lanes to stop operating.
‘We’re so sorry for the inconvenience. A technical issue has meant we’re temporarily operating one less security lane than normal in T2. We are working with airlines to get everyone on their way, thank you for your patience,’ the airport tweeted.
Travelers said trying to board their flights on Monday was a ‘total nightmare’.
‘Worst security queue I’ve seen in 30 years of travel,’ one tweeted with a photo of a line stretching several hundred meters long.
‘I’ll probably be in the queue to get through security longer than I’m in the air,’ said another.
‘I’m in the car park standing in the line for security check in. I reckon I’m about an hour away from actually getting though. Travel actually sucks,’ a third said.
Qantas also warned of delays for passengers traveling on Monday
A strike among Dnata workers would threaten to bring almost all international air travel to a halt with airlines virtually unable to operate out of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports.
‘It’s awful that the union is taking whatever action they’re proposing,’ said Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David.
‘Everybody in this country has been locked up for two years or more. They want to get home they want to go and see family. They want to go and see friends.
‘If the union is going to take this action then it will impact all of those airlines and it will impact everybody in our international airports.’
A damning memo has revealed the safety fears of airport ground crew bosses during the current mayhem which has been seen foreign workers shipped in to help
He dismissed safety fears and said the airline would always put safety first even if it meant flights were delayed as a result, but apologized for the current chaos.
‘We know we’ve got more work to do,’ he told Nine’s Today show.
‘I absolutely accept that people hold us to a higher standard. We hold ourselves to a higher standard.
‘And we haven’t been meeting those standards. I apologize to all your viewers because we are working hard on that.
‘We are seeing improvements – our mishandled baggage rate is almost at where it was pre-Covid Our call center rate is better than it was pre-Covid.
‘Our cancellation rates are better or getting closer to where they were pre-Covid. We know we’ve got more work to do on our on time performance. It is improving.’
A strike would threaten to bring almost all international air travel to a halt with airlines virtually unable to operate out of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports
Workers claim poor pay and conditions have left airports critically understaffed and the situation won’t improve unless more secure work and better wages are brought in.
The Transport Workers Union is now set to apply to the Fair Work Commission to vote for a strike after talks with management collapsed.
Union bosses claimed the proposed pay deal would leave experienced staff facing pay cuts and wages below the award minimum.
They claim Dnata brought in extra workers from the Philippines to ease the crisis but refused to allow local part-time workers to do extra shifts or create more full-time jobs.
‘Rather than lift standards or guarantee workers more hours in their contracts, Dnata tried to bring in overseas workers at great expense,’ said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
‘Workers successfully knocked back that plan, but are now faced with the likelihood of having to take strike action to achieve fair pay increases and job security.’
Dnata catering staff are also on the verge of separate strike action over pay, which they claim is below award rates for some employees.