Cathay Pacific is encouraged by the performance of its freighter service out of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport after a little over a year of operations.
The oneworld alliance member established a regular cargo link between Queensland’s Darling Downs and Hong Kong in November 2016 with a Boeing 747 freighter.
The flight operates as part of a Sydney-Melbourne-Wellcamp-Hong Kong schedule once a week.
While the initial rationale for the Wellcamp stop was to enable local producers in the Darling Downs to export their good to Asia and beyond via Cathay’s Hong Kong hub, Cathay Pacific Airways regional cargo manager for south west Pacific Nigel Chynoweth said there had also been demand for inbound freight.
“Obviously opportunities to export fresh produce and chilled meat products directly into Asia was the driving force,” Chynoweth said in a statement.
“But we have seen a steady growth in the number of businesses using the airport to bring items such as exhibitions, food processing equipment, aircraft engines and gas turbines, even a cheese shredder into the state.”
One highlight during the first 12 months of operations was the transfer of the sets for the stage musical Kinky Boots to Hamburg, Germany, following its run in Brisbane. The sets, which required 14 main deck pallets and two 20-foot pallets, were trucked to Wellcamp and then flown to Germany.
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport general manager Sara Hales said the local community had given good support for the airport’s cargo operations.
“We have the capabilities to handle inbound and outbound cargo; we have two main deck loaders, access to franna cranes, we are a licenced perishable facility and also approved to receive loose lodged perishables that we can can pack onto the aircraft unit load device prior to transfer to the freighter,” Hales said.
“As the variety of shipments broadens we are developing the facilities at Wellcamp Airport to handle anything from produce shipments needing cool room facilities, live animals to large mining shipments, aircraft engines, helicopters and even stage production sets.”
In addition to Cathay Pacific’s cargo service, Towwomba Wellcamp Airport also has regular public transport (RPT) passenger flights from AirNorth, QantasLink and Regional Express (Rex).
The privately-held Wellcamp Airport, owned by Wagners, opened in November 2014. It has a 2,800m runway capable of handling Boeing 747 aircraft and a terminal that has an initial capacity for 1.4 million passengers a year.