Mangoes, pecans and lettuce featured among several goods loaded onto Cathay Pacific’s trial cargo flight from Australia's Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport to Hong Kong on 23 November.
The flight also market the first international service at the airport near Toowoomba in Queensland’s agricultural food bowl, and gave Cathay Pacific the chance to showcase its newest addition, the Boeing 747-8 freighter.
Wellcamp Airport’s general manager Phil Gregory told Fruitnet that there was more than enough demand to fill the trial cargo flight, with plenty of support from local producers.
“It’s an ideal spot to build a cargo airport, with train and truck access, and we’re in one of the biggest agricultural production areas in Australia,” Gregory said, adding that talks are in place to develop Wellcamp’s international cargo services, with regular services to begin early 2016.
John Wagner, chairman of airport developer Wagners, said the flight marked a milestone for the airport and for the region, especially in light of the recently signed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
“We are on the cusp of a massive export opportunity that will give local producers access to markets that feed half of the worlds population and this flight is the first step towards achieving this long-term goal,” Wagner said in a company statement.
“These are exciting times for local farmers and we anticipate endless possibilities for our region and the future has never been brighter. International flights from Wellcamp would give local producers faster access to their key markets. For many it would mean the difference between a next day delivery and having to send produce first to ports like Sydney.”
Cathay Pacific south west Pacific general manger Nelson China echoed Wagners sentiments, stating that it was an exciting time for Australia exporters, with huge growth potential from producers in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
“Cathay Pacific is one of the world’s leading international air cargo carriers and we are always looking for new opportunities,” Chin added. “In fact, of the 12 new destinations that have been announced or commenced operations over the past two years, five are for freight only.”
The A$200m airport is privately owned by the Wagner family, and includes a 2.87km runway to accommodate large freight aircraft.
As well as the new airport and accommodating runways, Wellcamp Airport has also opened its Wellcamp Business Park, which Gregory said has the potential to become a dedicated cargo hub, with plans to construct cold storage for produce.
Wellcamp Airport celebrated its first birthday on 17 November, and now has daily services to Sydney and regional towns with Qantaslink and Rex, and is soon to commence services to Melbourne.