SYDNEY (XINHUA) - Australia's national airline, Qantas, and its subsidiary, Jetstar, are expecting to fly more than 350,000 domestic passengers during the first few days of July as school holidays begin in much of the country.
Schools in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory began their two-week winter holidays on Friday (July 1) afternoon with many young families keen to make the most of the break.
Qantas and Jetstar carried similar numbers for the start of the holidays in the states of Victoria and Queensland the previous weekend with the airlines releasing a joint statement saying that "things ran relatively smoothly".
"We thank customers for their patience during what is traditionally a very busy time and thank our people for their hard work over these school holidays and beyond," the statement read.
In preparation for the sharp increases in demand, the airlines, which had laid off staff during the past two years of Covid-19 border closures and lockdowns, have in recent months hired more than 1,000 new employees including cabin crew, pilots, engineers and airport staff to assist with check-ins, manage long queues and standby to help in congested baggage areas.
Despite the airlines boosting their staff numbers, passengers in Sydney were already facing long queues as dawn broke on Friday at the nation's busiest airport.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the airport had deployed an extra 60 customer service staff to manage the thousands of passengers during the peak times.
More than 2.1 million passengers are expected to pass through Sydney Airport throughout the holidays, including more than 1.5 million travelling within Australia.
"Our forecast shows the July school holidays are going to be even busier than what we saw in April (during the Easter break)," said Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert.
"It's terrific to see the ongoing demand for air travel but we won't sugar-coat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues."