Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport has celebrated its first year of scheduled freighter operations and is keen to continue expanding.
Cathay Pacific Cargo launched weekly Boeing 747-8 Freighter services from Hong Kong, which fly Sydney and Melbourne, with a final stop in Toowoomba before the nine hour flight back to Hong Kong.
The service was launched in November 2016 and has proved very popular, helped by free trade agreements for Australian exports but also for oversized, outer gauge, heavy cargo both into and out of Australia.
Cathay Pacific Airways regional cargo manager SWP, Nigel Chynoweth says: “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.”
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport general manager, Sara Hales says the airport is keen to expand international cargo operations and Queensland businesses have seized opportunities to import large, heavy load main deck cargo directly into and out of the state, and the airport’s perishable handling capabilities.
She says: “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 pack onto the aircraft unit load device prior to transfer to the freighter.”
The airport recently handled its largest volume consignment – the entire set for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots.
The consignment, destined for Hamburg, Germany consisted of 14 main deck pallets and two 20-foot pallets, and 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.
Hales says: “This consignment including 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.”
She also says the forwarding community, like ATS, has supported the airport for oversize shipments catered for by the Cathay Pacific freighter.
She says: “As the variety of shipments broadens we are developing 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.”