Hobart gets international (freighter) service

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 28, 2016
Qantas is planning a once weekly freighter service from Hobart to deliver milk to China in 2017. (Qantas)
From Tasmania to China. (Qantas)

International flights are returning to Hobart.

However, before people start heading to the nearest travel agent to book tickets, it is cargo rather than passenger demand that has led to a proposed once weekly service out of Tasmania.

Qantas plans to operate a Boeing 767-300 freighter from Hobart to Ningbo, China to transport some 50,000 litres of fresh milk a week, with flights due to commence some time in the first half of calendar 2017.

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The milk, from the VAN Dairy milk company, will be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores in Ningbo and Beijing, Qantas said on Friday.

Sean Shwe, managing director of VAN Dairy parent company Moon Lake Investments, said there was huge demand for fresh milk in China.

Further, the start of the Qantas freighter service would allow other Tasmanian producers to also export their goods such as fresh meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables directly to China.

“The key to satisfying that demand is having a reliable freight partner with an established freighter network, infrastructure and support in China and expertise in handling fresh produce – Qantas provides that,” Shwe said in a statement.

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“It will be a game changer for Tasmania, and we are proud to be leading the charge.”

Qantas said the 767-300 freighter would be the largest commercial aircraft to regularly operate into and out of Hobart. Frequencies could be increased from the proposed once a week service to meet demand.

Hobart last had regular international passenger flights in the late 1990s, when Air New Zealand had some trans-Tasman services.

Qantas Freight and Qantas Catering group executive manager Alison Webster noted the proposed 767-300 freighter flight out of Hobart added to the airline’s five existing dedicated freighter flights a week between Australia to China.

“Over the past three years Qantas Freight has developed particularly strong capabilities in dairy export which, with its short-life, requires close collaboration to ensure on time delivery and quality control throughout the supply chain,” Webster said.

“We’re really pleased to partner with VAN Dairy to help meet the booming demand for fresh Tasmanian milk in China – it’s the ultimate milk run.”

Currently, Qantas has daily passenger flights from Sydney to Shanghai and will return to the Sydney-Beijing route in January 2017. It also serves Hong Kong from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

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12 Comments

  • Dave

    says:

    Talk about taking the piss. Can’t they fly their own milk out or is that a sweetner for them taking over the dairy industry. What a joke.

  • Corey

    says:

    The 767-300 is that an additional aircraft or the current one in the very small freighter fleet? Shame Qantas won’t operate the 747-8F along with 777 and or A330. Also, why isn’t Qantas growing the freighter fleet to gain more business and take some away from the other companies?

  • Dave

    says:

    That seems a very long way for a 767. I wonder if the amount of freight will have to be limited to make the journey

  • Anil Kattula

    says:

    Is flight going to be non-stop? Hobart – China would be close to max range for a 767-300 loaded with freight. Interesting to note that an article in The Australian newspaper mentioned a new flight from Wellcamp to China carrying milk! Milk must now be the number one export by air!

  • Ben

    says:

    Oh well maybe CX can compete by flying the 747-8 freighter from HBA to HKG. Not sure if they’d need a longer runway beforehand though. Its a shame they can’t get a regular passenger service going. Hobart is the only capital city in Australia that doesn’t have regular International passenger flights. New Zealand has been done before, so surely Air NZ can come up with something, or perhaps Jetstar. Singapore could be possible with the right aircraft. Having said that a multi level terminal, aero-bridges and a longer runway would help attract such services. Build it and they will come. Unfortunately for the good people of Hobart I wouldn’t be holding my breath for any of these things. I remember a recent news article where some airport or tourism official said that Hobart deliberately didn’t want aero-bridges as they wanted passengers first experience to be to walk out into the fresh Tasmanian air! Nice sentiment – maybe not in the middle of winter 🙂 I seem to recall that a possibility of aero-bridges might have been factored into one of their strategic plans, but still keeping the terminal at one level. It looked weird with the aero-bridge going straight from ground level up to the door of the plane, but apparently this is possible and the same design is used in the US.

  • Joe

    says:

    Qantas already had a service back in 1990, with 767 passenger service with freight capacity. Some private company had set up the Qantas freight service and was shafted when the flights were pulled from under them and the Tasmanian exporters leaving them high and dry and destroying their own service. If the service doesn’t work they’ll likely do the same.

  • Jess33

    says:

    Wow I’m just exited to be seeing some different aircraft at Hobart, generally the most interesting planes we get are the Antarctic RAAF C-17 forecasters. Another step towards international flights from Hobart!!

  • Anil Kattula

    says:

    Singapore airlines did a very successful series of charter flights to Hobart in early 1990s using A310. Expect to see them and Air NZ start services to several regional cities in near future including Hobart and Canberra. Cannot believe the Australian airlines, particularly Qantas, are going to do nothing and let them!

  • Anil;
    The issue about Qantas competing on routes such as Wellington to Canberra and onto Singapore or International from Hobart into Asia is that Qants do not have the available aircraft with the reach to effectively operate such a service and currently there are no plans to acquire such aircraft (Boeing 787 Dreamliners or A330 aircraft with the requisite reach.

    The only possible options might be possibly freeing up a Jetstar Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from a Bali route once the two new Jetstar Airbus A321 aircraft come on stream with Jetstar on a routing like YMHB – WSSS or YMHB -VHHH, but the big question is would the load factors justify such an aircraft deployment. Personally I doubt it. However I could imagine something like a NZWN-YSCB-WSSS route possibly with a Qantas A330 once the Qantas dream liners come on line, but I cannot see that happening at least till end 2018 or perhaps in 2019. In the meantime Singapore Airlines has lots of Boeing 777-200’s in storage as Scoot continues to replace them with modern Dreamliners, so a Singapore Airlines B777-200 YMHB- WSSS route might be feasible with say an interim stop at something like YBBS or YDDN. Bear in mind that Qantas new Dreamliners order will only see 2 delivered in 2017, the first coming at end September 2017 with the second airframe only arriving in December 2017.

  • Ben

    says:

    @andrew Ferguson you make some interesting points. I just checked out the latest Hobart master plan on their website. It seems my wish of a multi level terminal and aero-bridges are off the agenda now. Although a runway extension and full length taxiway are in there. At the end of the day load factors may be an issue for deploying widebody passenger aircraft as you say. Probably a bit of a market to be tapped if you can capture the whole population of Tassie, However for people living in or near Launceston, Devonport or Burnie it’s probably easier to fly direct to Melbourne for their international connections, rather than having to drive to Hobart. Doesn’t make sense to backtrack South in order to travel North. Therefore the market for Hobart is probably a bit restricted for international passengers even though its the state capital. Nevertheless I think the state capital still deserves a multi level terminal and aero-bridges.

  • Anil Kattula

    says:

    Singapore airlines may use one of their subsidiaries like Scoot or silkair to serve Hobart and other regional cities. May also do Singapore – Bali- Australian regional port. Singapore – Jakarta-Sydney was canned only due to runway problem at Jakarta. They have some surplus aircraft they can use. Air NZ are upgrading main Aussie routes to widebodies. Frees a320s to serve regional ports.

  • Ben

    says:

    Actually if Silkair was able to deploy a narrowbody aircraft direct SIN-HBA that could be viable. They’re re-equipping with 737-MAX 8. Although their range is right at the limit of the SIN-HBA direct route. So not sure if that is possible.

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