A surprisingly high demand for inbound opportunities has added value to the operation of
Queensland’s only scheduled freighter service at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, said Cathay Pacific Airways regional cargo manager SWP Nigel Chynoweth.
As the airport celebrates the first anniversary of the weekly Cathy Pacific Airways 747-8F Toowoomba to Hong Kong service this month, growing support for inbound capabilities has generated strong interest.
“Discussions are getting serious and I think it’s been an interesting development from when we first started operating the service 12 months ago.
“Obviously opportunities to export fresh produce and chilled meat products directly into Asia was the driving force, 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,” said Mr Chynoweth.
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport general manager Sara Hales said opportunities amid Australia’s free trade agreements had driven exports but over the past 12 months the airport had also catered for oversized, outer gauge, heavy cargo both into and out of Australia.
“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,” explained Ms Hales.
She said the airport was keen to expand its international cargo operations and was pleased Queensland businesses had seized the opportunity to import large, heavy load main deck cargo directly into and out of the state, as well as take advantage of the airport’s customised perishable handling capabilities.
“As a small operator we have been able to deliver a bespoke service that truly understands and meets our clients’ needs,” she said.
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport recently handled its largest volume consignment - the entire set for the Broadway hit musical Kinky Boots.
The consignment, destined for Hamburg, Germany, consisted of 14 main deck pallets and two 20-foot pallets.
“It took five trucks to transport the loose costumes, stage props and sets to the airport’s cargo terminal the day prior to the flight.
“This consignment included long, oversize and tall pieces of cargo and really illustrates the capability of the freighter to provide Queensland with a local solution for urgent, high value and oversize cargo,” said Ms Hales.
ATS Logistics director, Phil Duncan, whose company specialises in touring freight for concerts, shows and entertainment, said the team at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport was very accommodating.
“We would certainly look to utilising the facility again in the future. Its proximity to Brisbane makes it a great option,” said Mr Duncan.
Ms Hales said over the past year the airport had received good support from the forwarding community, like ATS, for oversize shipments catered for by the Cathay Pacific freighter.
“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,” she said.
Oakey Beef Export general manager Pat Gleeson, whose business had a beef consignment on the first Cathay Pacific flight from Wellcamp in November last year, said the service offered exciting, long-term opportunities.
“This service takes the future of agricultural production in Queensland and Australia to another level and we are proud to support a local, community asset that takes Toowoomba to the world,” said Mr Gleeson.
The international scheduled weekly cargo service operated on a Cathay Pacific
747-8F, departs from Hong Kong, then lands in Sydney, and Melbourne, with a final stop in Toowoomba before the nine-hour direct flight to Hong Kong.
Menzies Aviation, in partnership with Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, manage the ground handling and cargo terminal operations.
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Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport