10 May 2023

Airport chaos impacting Cape York routes

| Samuel Davis
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BOOMING domestic passenger numbers across Australia has placed further pressure on airlines flying to Cape York destinations.

Worker shortages and record numbers at Cairns airport throughout June and July led to unexpected delays for travellers heading north.

Connecting flights to remote destinations were often delayed because major carriers had failed to land on time or cancelled flights with little notice, Skytrans CEO Alan Milne said.

“It’s really difficult,” Mr Milne told Cape York Weekly.

“It’s a decision we have to make every day and it’s entirely customer focused but it’s heavily influenced by other carriers and their punctuality.

“When 10 of your passengers are joining from a connecting flight from Brisbane and it’s running late, we try to do what we can to accommodate them but we’re limited in what we can do.”

Ensuring travellers are taken care of is a priority, Mr Milne said.

“A lot of customers don’t have the means to just book themselves in at the Hilton,” he said.

“There’s not a huge amount of our customers travelling for leisure either.

“If someone ends up stranded in Cairns and it’s not their home, we make sure we look after them.”

In June, Australia recorded its worst flight cancellation and performance rate since records began in 2003.

The Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics reported only 63 per cent of Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Rex Airlines flights arrived on time in June.

Almost six per cent of flights were cancelled – more than double the long-term average figure of 2.1 per cent – making June of this year the worst figures since the data started being recorded in 2003.

Cairns airport exceeded pre-pandemic traveller numbers in the final fortnight of June with more than 90,000 passengers jet setting across the country each week.

Domestic throughput at Cairns Airport last month:

July 4: 92,396

July 11: 91,977

July 18: 88,374

July 25: 84,915

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