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Tasmanian fresh produce exporters will benefit from a new Cathay Pacific seasonal service set to connect the Australian state and Hong Kong over the crucial summer months.

The service, operated by a passenger aircraft converted for freight as a result of Covid-19, will fly from Hobart to Hong Kong, via a stop at Melbourne three times a week from December to February.

Guy Barnett, Tasmania’s minister for primary industries and water, said over 40 tonnes of valuable local produce would be transported in each flight.

“Fresh produce, including cherries, strawberries and raspberries are available to be freighted over on these flights, as well as chilled dairy and meat,” said Barnett.

“It’s fantastic news and another vote of confidence in our world-class premium produce that is highly sought after right across the world.”

Jeremy Rockliff, Tasmania’s minister for trade, said the establishment of the service will be a significant boost for Tasmanian exporters.

“This provides access through Hong Kong to a wide range of connecting international destinations in South-East and Northern Asia,” Rockliff said.

“We are committed to helping our producers and exporters as they adjust to the Covid-19 business environment and this will help us as we work towards our target of growing the value of our exports to A$15bn (US$11.1bn) a year by 2050.”