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How the restart of travel has become a frustrating and expensive shambles


When the Covid borders fell and restrictions were lifted it seemed like the will of Australians to travel was back, but it’s all fallen apart and travel companies are now asking people to plan for the unplanned.

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Qantas has been openly mocked over delays, flight cancellations and lost baggage and Citi this week put a sell recommendation on the airline’s shares because of all the problems it faced.

Social media was alive with the disasters besetting Sydney Airport when fog delayed planes and travellers were queueing up outside the terminal building; and flying on some routes has become hideously expensive.

Flight Centre subsidiary FCM Travel released a report showing that globally the travel and tourism sector lost 30 million jobs in 2021 and had only replaced 18 million at the end of last year.

Almost all travel companies that sacked staff at the beginning of the pandemic are finding that in many cases those people have moved on to other jobs and won’t be coming back.

“With travel returning rapidly many airports now struggle to recruit and screen new staff quickly enough, forcing airports like Heathrow and Frankfurt to cap the number of travellers each day,” the report said.

“Persistent staffing shortages, fewer flights and booming demand are causing severe disruptions for the traveller experience. USA-based airlines cancelled over 21,000 flight since the Memorial Day weekend in May. Lufthansa cancelled 3000 flights in July and August due to airport and staffing problems.

“Since our first quarter 2022 report a further 120 million seats have been removed from the original schedules to the end of the year.”

FCM said it was recommending people carry spare items in their carry on so they can deal with delays. On time arrivals across the top 30 airlines was at 66 per cent, a fall of 5.7 per cent in the June quarter.

Airfares have also been hit. Economy fares between Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland are up 42 per cent and 36 per cent respectively compared with 2019. The fares for the Brisbane to Sydney route were down 23 per cent over the same period.

And when you finally arrive at your destination you’ll find room rates have skyrocketed and availability has fallen. Even hiring a car has become much more expensive.



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