Singapore Airlines has announced the addition of Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba to its list of COVID-19 cargo destinations, serving as a part of the federal government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) program.
Friday night saw the airline’s cargo-only A350-900 take on the non-controlled aerodrome of Wellcamp Airport, west of Brisbane, for the first time.
According to SIA, there will be a total of six once-weekly flights into the regional Queensland airport, which will see local producers provided with over 180 tonnes of cargo capacity, in order to send the fresh produce of the Darling Downs to markets across the globe.
Commenting on the development, Singapore Airlines regional vice president south-west Pacific, Philip Goh, said, “We are pleased to be able to support Queensland producers through the Australian government’s IFAM program with the launch of weekly flights to Wellcamp.
“Queensland has been an important part of our passenger and cargo network for more than 35 years and last night’s inaugural cargo-only passenger service to Wellcamp is a happy milestone during these challenging times.”
According to Goh, the maiden flight from Wellcamp carried pork, avocados and heavy machinery to Singapore, with avocados shipments going further afield, to Hong Kong.
“We look forward to working closely with the federal and state governments, as well as local freight forwarders and producers to make the remaining five flights a success,” he said.
Singapore Airlines now joins Cathay Pacific taking on the Class G airspace of the Wellcamp Aerodrome, with the former’s arrival of its A350 no doubt to cause a spectacle.
Since November 2016, Cathay Pacific has operated a regular cargo link between Queensland’s Darling Downs and Hong Kong, and has landed its mammoth Boeing 747 freighter jet at the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport once a week, every week since.
While the initial rationale was to enable local producers in the Darling Downs to export their goods to Asia and beyond via Cathay’s Hong Kong hub, Cathay Pacific Airways regional cargo manager for south-west Pacific Nigel Chynoweth said within the first 12 months of the links operation, there had also been demand for inbound freight.
The pilots and crew of both Cathay’s Boeing 747 and Singapore’s Airbus A350, once out of range of Brisbane’s ATC, must navigate the airspace, often littered with light aircraft from the Qantas Group Pilot Academy or the private GA scene of the Darling Downs, by announcing their position and intentions on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.
The practice is not commonly required by such sizable aircraft, that would most often be flying through and landing in controlled airspaces.
IFAM expands service to Perth and Adelaide
Goh noted that in addition to the six, once-weekly services to Wellcamp Airport, the Australian government’s IFAM program is also supporting twice-weekly services to Perth using SIA’s Boeing 787-10.
The IFAM-supported flights, which began on 26 May, will run through until 15 August carrying chilled pork to the Singapore market.
The IFAM program will also continue to support a six-week extension to the once-weekly A350-900 medium-haul flight to Adelaide.
SIA’s IFAM-supported Adelaide-Singapore cargo-only passenger flights have carried more than 170 tonnes of meat, tuna, seafood, dairy products, wine, pharmaceuticals, fresh fruit, and manufacturing equipment not only to Singapore but also to destinations in Europe, north Asia, south-east Asia, South Africa and the United States.
“The six IFAM-supported flights have provided a significant benefit to the South Australian economy, helping to sustain local producers and manufacturers,” Goh added.
“We are very pleased the Australian government has decided to support the continuation of these services for a further six weeks.
“The additional support for 24 cargo-only passenger flights from Perth, to transport chilled pork, will also go a long way to benefiting the Western Australian economy.
“Ensuring Australian producers have access to global supply chains and the ability to move their products efficiently around the world is something we are pleased to be able to provide.
“Australia has been an important part of our global network for more than 53 years and while the COVID-19 pandemic has inhibited the ability for people to travel, we are very proud to be able to continue to support the Australian economy, producers and manufacturers through operating these IFMA-supported cargo-only passenger services.”