SYDNEY, July 8 (Xinhua) — Australian airports on Friday braced for their biggest crowds since before the pandemic as school holidays ended in several states and began in others.

Schools in Queensland and Victoria will reopen next Monday, while schools in South Australia and the island of Tasmania will begin a two-week winter break, prompting a surge in domestic flights and adding to the strain on airport and airline services that have struggled to meet pent-up travel demand in recent months. .

National broadcaster ABC said more than a dozen flights from Melbourne’s Victoria Airport had been canceled on Thursday, a chaotic situation compounded by weather disruptions for passengers heading to flood-hit New South Wales (NSW).

National airline Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar announced on Friday that they had increased the number of staff, including baggage handlers and check-in workers, to cope with the crowds of passengers.

The airline group has also scheduled larger peak-time aircraft for flights between major capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

“We thank customers for their patience during what is traditionally a very busy time and thank our people for their hard work during the school holidays and beyond,” Qantas said in a statement.

Meanwhile, up to 100,000 passengers are expected to pass through Melbourne Airport on Friday and travelers are being urged to arrive early.

“We advise domestic travelers to arrive one to two hours before departure, while international travelers should allow two to three hours for check-in, security and passport control,” an airport official told local newspaper the Herald Sun.

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