Australia’s first privately-built airport has announced weekly international freight flights will begin next month.
Cathay Pacific will operate the jumbo service between Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport, 120km south of Brisbane, and Hong Kong.
The freight-only service is scheduled to begin on November 22.
Airport developer and co-owner John Wagner said the service was a tremendous opportunity for the region’s agricultural sector, and would see chilled beef and other perishables flown direct from local producers to customers in Asia.
“This really is the culmination of two years of very hard work to convince an airline to run out of a regional centre in Australia,” Mr Wagner said.
“It’s the first time ever that a 747-800 scheduled freighter service, has run out of a regional centre and it’s just very, very good news for our region, the state, and the country.”
The announcement comes less than a year after Cathay Pacific trialled a freight flight from the Wellcamp Airport to Hong Kong in November 2015.
“I think what Cathay really worked out after that initial trial flight was that the market is here and the people of this region are proactive and are prepared to look outside the square in order to get their produce off to Asia, where half the world’s population lives,” Mr Wagner said.
The Wellcamp Airport was opened in November 2014 and operates 72 regular domestic services each week, including daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne and multiple weekly flights to Cairns and Townsville.
Mr Wagner said the new freight service would create dozens of new jobs.
“Initially for this first service, it’ll probably be about 35 to 40 jobs direct at the airport, but the flow-on effect is mind-blowing and what people don’t really understand is what this means for our region, both from a jobs perspective and from the perspective of economic prosperity and confidence,” he said.
Mr Wagner said while the initial contract with Cathay Pacific was for weekly flights, he anticipated it could increase to three services a week within the next 12 to 18 months.
Online Source: ABC News.