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Travel warning ahead of Easter chaos

Australian airports are bracing for an influx of travellers, with passengers warned to plan ahead.

Qantas and Jetstar are expecting more than 670,000 passengers over the Easter long weekend alone, with 150,000 people flying on Easter Thursday, making it the busiest day.

This will also be the busiest day for Brisbane and Sydney Airport.

About 130,000 passengers are expected to pass through Sydney Airport while 56,000 will pass through Brisbane Airport’s domestic terminal.

Melbourne Airport, however, is not expected to see its busiest day until April 12, marking the end of Victorian school holidays and the start of NSW school holidays.

It forecasts 108,000 passengers, a big increase on a normal day of between 85,000 and 95,000 passengers.

Those jetting off from Melbourne are warned parking will be more challenging than usual with 500 spaces removed from the airport’s ‘Value Car Park’ for construction of Naarm Way Stage 2.

“This coming weekend is looking particularly busy, with the Value Car Park sold out online and limited spaces in our Terminal car parks, so we’d advise travellers to allow extra time to find a space,” Melbourne Airport’s chief of ground transport, property and retail Jai McDermott said.

“When complete in 2026, Naarm Way Stage 2 will deliver new dedicated drop off and pick up zones for passengers using Terminals 1, 2 and 3, while also reducing congestion in the increasingly busy forecourt.”

In total Melbourne Airport will see 1.7 million passengers (1.16 million domestic and 540,000 international) over Easter and the school holidays.

International traveller numbers are up 21 per cent compared to the same holiday period last year, while domestic traveller numbers are expected to increase by four per cent.

Passengers are advised to arrive one to two hours before a domestic flight and two to three hours before an international flight.

Mr McDermott said the airport would have more security, more cleaners and more customer service staff on hand to meet demand.

“We know peak travel periods can be a stressful time for some passengers, but we ask people to be patient and respectful as the team works to get you where you need to be as quickly and safely as possible,” he said.

Brisbane Airport is gearing up for 1.5 million people to pass through its domestic terminal and 500,000 travellers to pass through the international terminal.

Brisbane Airport spokesman Peter Doherty said as the weather starts to cool in NSW, Victoria and New Zealand they enter “the period of the year when Queensland shines”.

The number of travellers using the domestic terminal is up just 2 per cent on the same period last year, but international traveller numbers will be a huge 32 per cent higher.

The busiest time for the international terminal in Brisbane will be between April 12 and 14 as school holidays begin in New Zealand.

“Trans-Tasman travel has increased, with the number of flights originating from New Zealand rising from 75 this time last year to 87 per week this year,” Mr Doherty said, which is a 23 per cent increase.

However, the real star is Japan. There are 18 departures from Brisbane to the popular Asian nation, compared to just three this time last year.

“The number of passengers will be at 200 per cent of pre-Covid levels, by far the biggest recovery of any market,” Mr Doherty said. “Not only will it mean thousands of Japanese tourists holidaying in South East Queensland, but also lots of Queenslanders enjoying the cherry blossom season.”

He credited an expansion of Jetstar services at Brisbane Airport for the boom, with the budget airline now the second biggest international airline for the airport.

Brisbane Airport said it plans to bring back therapy dogs to calm passengers in the domestic terminal for the holidays, and expand the program to the international terminal for the first time.

Aussies flying domestically are advised to arrive the normal 90 minutes prior to their flight and three hours before an international departure.

Unlike Victoria and Queensland, NSW school holidays don’t kick off until two weeks after Easter.

A Sydney Airport spokeswoman told news.com.au this meant they were expecting “a longer, but less peaky busy period”.

“The terminals will still be bustling and we’re encouraging passengers to arrive at the airport two hours ahead of domestic travel if they’re checking in luggage, and three hours prior if heading overseas,” she said, adding travellers are urged to book their parking online ahead of time.

Sydney Airport expects 449,000 passengers to pass through between Thursday and Sunday, 266,000 of those domestic and 183,000 international.

With the school holidays for the three eastern states expanding over a four week period, Qantas and Jetstar are expecting almost four million passengers to fly on 36,000 flights nationally.

Up to 15 aircraft will be on standby across the Qantas Group to help if there are disruptions.

Qantas said it had rostered on additional staff at its busiest airports, and worked with contractors to ensure additional ground handlers are on standby and also airport security screeners.

Dedicated maintenance teams have been set up to increase maintenance activity on aircraft.