Because Australia was locked down long after most of the world reopened, Brady said aviation here was six months behind other countries in returning to pre-pandemic levels of reliability.
“The industry has been stunned by the increased challenges it has faced, especially skills in aviation because governments have decimated the industry,” said Swissport’s global CEO.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers have left the industry, and they are skilled workers, and they have not returned. So you ended up with a situation … where all these aviation services had shortages of skills and manpower.
“Demand has outstripped the industry’s capabilities … that’s why they’ve seen unprecedented operational challenges globally.”
He accepted that many of these challenges will continue over the end-of-year travel period, but said “the industry is working hard to meet the demand that is coming in”.
“The challenge will be to meet the demand”
Travelers have quickly returned to Australian skies, pushing Qantas, Virgin Australia and Regional Express to return to profit after a two-year battle with COVID-19, but have consistently complained of delayed or canceled flights, long airport lines and lost luggage .
Problems peaked in May, when Qantas canceled one in 13 flights, but began to improve in September. Across the sector, flights left on schedule 67.7 percent of the time and 3.4 percent of all flights were canceled. Jetstar was the outlier, canceling one in 10 services as engineering problems forced it to ground much of the fleet for long periods.
Brady said Swissport was processing more aircraft movements than in 2019, and he believed demand for travel would continue to increase next year.
“Domestic demand in Australia, we think will be significantly higher than 2019 levels next year and international demand will be as high as 2019. The challenge will be ‘can the industry meet that demand?'” he said.
“We believe a good boom is coming for the Australian economy in 2023 and the aviation industry will have a big role to play in that.”