Airlines step up warnings over Easter disruption

By Aimee Shaw

Those travelling to Australia may face delays as Australian airport staff prepare to strike. Photo / iStock
Those travelling to Australia may face delays as Australian airport staff prepare to strike. Photo / iStock

Airlines are stepping up warnings to passengers about possible disruption to and from Australia over Easter as a result of industrial action by border staff across the Tasman.

House of Travel says Kiwis planning transtasman travel in the next week should maintain close contact with their airline and find out the airline's policy should flights be affected by strike action.

The agent's commercial director Brent Thomas said Qantas has advised that customers with a ticket booked before March 21 could rebook travel on the same day without incurring a fee.

Virgin Australia is recommending customers travelling out of Australia arrive at least three hours before their scheduled flight.

"It is anticipated that airports in Cairns and Perth will be affected today, with Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth affected tomorrow. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth are likely to be affected by strike action on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, while there will hopefully be no impacted ports on Saturday," said Thomas

Australian customs and immigration staff will strike for 24 hours on Thursday following ongoing action against the Federal Government making changes to workers' rights and a proposed two-year wage freeze.

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Helloworld general manager David Libeau yesterday advised those with plans to travel to Australia to contact their travel agent who can advise them.

"It is very unfortunate that these agencies have chosen the lead up to Easter to take this action," he said.

"There will be many travellers who will be taking advantage of the 4-day Easter break to catch up with friends and family in Australia and who clearly will not appreciate possible delays in airport processing procedures."

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood told News.com.au expected delays for travellers were "unfortunate", but said Airport staff felt their rights were being eroded.

Pensioners, welfare recipients and Medicare users will also be affected by the strike, with many staff from Centrelink, Medicare and twelve other federal government departments set to join striking staff in action.

"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ignored our offer of talks to fix the government's public sector bargaining mess, so serious industrial action will begin on Monday and continue in airports for a number of weeks," she said.

At this stage it is difficult to tell how disruptive the strike will be - while we are hopeful it will follow the pattern of the Australian airport strike in November which resulted in minimal disruptions, reports are advising customers there could be lengthy delays.

Flight Centre NZ general manager Sue Matson said the company is closely monitoring the situation and being kept informed of any updates to the schedules.

"We are advising anyone travelling through the affected airports ensure they allow plenty of time and to expect that they will likely experience delays."

- NZ Herald

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