Launceston Airport management has warned travellers on Wednesday to arrive at least 90 minutes before departure, as a post-pandemic recovery in passenger travel and shortages of airline staff are straining air systems during the peak winter school holiday period.
Launceston Airport chief executive Shane O'Hare said recent weather events, the pandemic-related staff shortages and the surge of passengers wanting to fly were having an "impact", and encouraged passengers to maintain patience and arrive early.
"We are now seeing there is very, very strong demand for travel and tourism - everybody wants to get into the air, and people have a lot of pent-up holiday travel," he said.
Airport passenger numbers tell the story of an industry in recovery, he said.
Passenger numbers through Launceston Airport in June were 5 per cent higher than the same month of 2019 before COVID's onset, while during the recent Queen's Birthday long weekend, 3800 passengers traversed the airport each day - about 25 per cent more than a typical day.
Mr O'Hare said the winter travel period was "holding up very well", including inbound tourist travellers due to school holidays in NSW and Victoria, and Tasmanian winter tourism campaigns.
"We are expecting up to 3800 passengers a day, so it is quite an increase over our normal average."
In recent months, Launceston passengers have been angered by both airport delays and cancelled flights.
According to data from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Economics, 12 per cent of all Launceston to Melbourne flights were cancelled in May, as well as 11.3 per cent of all Melbourne to Launceston flights.
At 48 per cent, Launceston Airport also recorded the lowest percentage of flights arriving on time in May, according to the same data.
Mr O'Hare attributed these delays and cancellations to the unprecedented disruptions of the pandemic.
"Airlines have been particularly hit hard, there have been pilot shortages coming back, there were a lot of operational staff stripped down during COVID, ... and because of shortages in other areas and industries where pay has been higher, a lot of people have left the industry and gone to other jobs," he said.
"So it's a challenge for the airlines to [now] get ramped up again for the surge of growth that has come back a lot stronger than has been anticipated."
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