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Cathay Pacific to start weekly Wellcamp freighter service

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 11, 2016

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8 at Wellcamp Airport on Monday 23 November 2015 (Lenn Bayliss)
A file image of Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8 at Wellcamp Airport on Monday 23 November 2015. (Lenn Bayliss)

Brisbane West Wellcamp will have a regular cargo link with Asia from November when Cathay Pacific adds the Southern Queensland airport to its Australian freighter network.

The start of the once weekly service comes a year after Cathay operated a one-off freighter flight to Wellcamp on November 23 2015 and is yet another step forward in airport owners Wagners’ ambition to establish the facility as an international passenger and freight hub for the region.

Wellcamp said in a statement on Tuesday Cathay will operate the flight on a Sydney-Melbourne-Wellcamp-Hong Kong routing with a Boeing 747-8F.

Wagners chairman John Wagner said Cathay’s commitment to a weekly flight was a major coup for the airport and the region’s local producers.

“We are absolutely delighted Cathay Pacific has committed to operating a scheduled weekly Boeing 747-8F service out of the airport,” Wagner said.


“The opportunities this creates for Queensland exporters to benefit from Australia’s free trade agreements and to access the world’s biggest consumer markets are unlimited.”

Wellcamp said Menzies Aviation would manage ground handling and cargo terminal operations in partnership with the airport.

Cathay Pacific’s one-off flight in November 2015 carried about 70 and 75 tonnes of cargo including chilled beef, mangoes, pecan nuts and grains from the surrounding Darling Downs region was loaded before departing to Hong Kong. There was also some heavy machinery being loaded on the flight such as a helicopter.

The airline’s general manager for Southwest Pacific Nelson Chin said there was much potential in Wellcamp.

“We were enormously encouraged by the enthusiasm and support of everyone involved in this venture,” Chin said.

“The combination of primary producers in the Darling Downs area exporting beef, dairy and fresh produce, as well as significant mining and manufacturing businesses in southern Queensland makes it a truly dynamic part of Australia.

“China buys more of Australia’s agricultural products than any other country and we are confident our new service will provide these businesses with a competitive advantage as the benefits of the new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement increase.”

Flight schedules from Cathay showed CX22 departing Sydney at 1220, arriving in Melbourne at 1350. After an hour and 45 minutes on the ground, the 747-8F was then due to take off at 1535 and touch down at Wellcamp at 1645. The final leg is scheduled as a 1815 departure, landing in Hong Kong at 0045 the next day.

Cathay said the flight times would allow for “fresh produce to be delivered to the markets and restaurants in China later that morning as well as onto a vast number of destinations around the world” from the airline’s Hong Kong Cargo Terminal.

Local member John McVeigh, Wagners' John Wagner and Minister Darren Chester at Wellcamp Airport. (Minister Chester's office)
A file image of local member John McVeigh, Wagners’ John Wagner and Minister Darren Chester at Wellcamp Airport. (Minister Chester’s office)

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the government would work with the airport to provide the necessary border agency resources to support the weekly freight flight.

Further, Chester noted the federal government’s move to categorise Wellcamp as a ”regional airport” for future air services agreements, rather than as a major airport such as Sydney or Melbourne, has generated fresh interest from foreign carriers.

“The regional package provides for no restrictions on capacity entitlements which will help Wellcamp grow in the future,” Chester said in a statement.

“Unlocking additional aviation capacity provides our regional airports, including Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, the opportunity to connect with international airline networks and more effectively serve their local markets.”

Wellcamp has domestic flights from Airnorth, Regional Express and QantasLink.

The airport recently won an Australian Engineering Excellence Award (AEEA) for Queenslandin the project infrastructure category. The award recognises “outstanding achievement in the practice of engineering and service to the profession”.

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Comments (15)

  • Mike


    Fatastic news. While BAC dithers, BWW gets on with the job without any government subsidies.

  • teddy


    Wagners are obviously very active in promoting the use of the airport.

    It would be nice to see this unstinting level of engagement and success at other regional locations for both passenger and freight services in Australia.

    Perhaps complete private ownership gives them further drive and impetus to get a return in investment.

    Lessons here for other regional locations in terms of advocacy, political manoeuvring and financial support?

  • ian


    lets sack the whole Fed govt & put Wagners in charge. They get things done.

  • john


    Think KLM still have combi 747’s. Surely Cathay could lease 1 or 2 of these(they already fly AMS/HKG) to fly HKG/Wellcamp & maybe even do it twice a week, so can then have passenger & freight services to whole world. (from HKG you can almost fly anywhere nonstop)

  • Dave


    If you build it, they will come

  • Aviation Commentator


    So my question is, what commodities will this weekly service be uplifting? Live cattle, or maybe mining parts from another of the Wagner’s ventures? I doubt there will be any real demand or interest for cargo from Wellcamp airport especially when flights from Brisbane are departing with cargo space readily available. I’m interested to see how this move by both CX and the Wagner’s Wellcamp Airport pans out. Good luck to both as it’s a great plus to the region.

  • EH


    @Aviation Commentator
    I would expect everything from green fresh produce (fruits, vegetables, flowers) to fresh meat (goat, kangaroo, lamb, beef). Much of these products are in fact closer to Wellcamp than Brisbane Airport, and in what can be a game of hours to guarantee freshness, that proximity obviously counts.

  • That Ron guy


    I just wish they’s stop calling it “Brisbane West”. It’s no more “Brisbane West” than Maroochydore is “Brisbane North” or Coolangatta is “Brisbane South”. If you want to promote the region as a region, stop sponging off Brisbane & potentially misleading operators & pax into thinking it’s part of the Brisbane area.

  • Aviation Commentator


    Unfortunately fresh commodities are very low yielding sometimes up to 5 times less then general cargo, and not to mention it also requires quarantine inspections, also done only in Brisbane. This is the same reason why all perishable cargo that departs from the Gold Coast is trucked from Brisbane even though much of it originates from northern NSW. The low yields of meat and produce alone surely isn’t enough to warrant a freighter service as the revenue wouldn’t come near covering the cost of the service. Hence why I’m very interested to see how this service shapes up and what commodities CX will uplift. Regardless it’s good to see a couple major airlines using this airport creating jobs, stimulating the local economy and helping to grow the region.

  • random


    @That Ron Guy

    Admittedly Wagners have stretched the friendship in terms of distance (120km), and most other cities trying this trick have considerably larger populations and more dense than the connurbation of South-East Queensland. The concept is accepted generally in some other parts of the world, for example London:

    London Gatwick (60km from London)
    London Stansted (70km from London)
    London Southend (70km from London)
    London Luton (50km from London)

  • Chris


    The luck and the irony.. the 748 is rarely ever seen in Australia, and when it does, it will be at WTB.

  • Ron


    Reduced landing charges at WTB make the B747-8F operation viable.

  • Dee Thom


    @aviation commentator
    Not wishing to be a harbinger of bad news, but suggest you re-read the article and note that the CX 748F drops, and collects freight at SYD, and MLB before landing at Wellcamp, which to me means that under a Third of the load is from the Downs area which is sustainable in the long term for CX.

  • Ben


    You mean MEL. MLB is Melbourne Florida.

    The name is a bit much, why not just call it “Darling Downs Regional”? Or just “Wellcamp”?

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