Freight flights take off today

DUBAI and Shanghai are firming as future export markets as the Darling Downs today marks the first of its regular international freight flights from Wellcamp Airport.

At least three airlines are in confidential discussions to begin operating out of the international-accredited airport following the path of Cathay Pacific which will today begin its weekly cargo service from the Darling Downs to Hong Kong.

The Cathay Pacific 747-8F will land at Wellcamp this afternoon.

Airport manager Phil Gregory it marked "exciting times" for the region and staff which underwent extensive training in recent weeks to comply with quarantine and customs requirements.

The service brings with it the creation of new jobs and expansion of existing facilities in the surrounding industrial areas.

Members of the Wagner family board the Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane at Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong, Monday, November 23, 2015. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle
Members of the Wagner family board the Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane at Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong, Monday, November 23, 2015. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle Kevin Farmer

"Every Tuesday going forward we will have a 747 landing in Toowoomba for fresh produce," he said.

"There will be more truck drivers required, and sub-contractors with equipment builds and a whole pile of other stuff.

"It's the start of many (new jobs), we think."

The flight will land in Toowoomba late this afternoon after loading cargo from Sydney and Melbourne.

Oakey Beef Exports has signed on for the first freight flight, alongside mangos from Bowen and other regional producers.

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Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise executive chairman Shane Charles said the variety of produce on board was a credit to the region and paramount to the export flights' future success.

He said the Cathay Pacific flight was nearing its capacity for the first regular service.

"It's just so exciting and is what we've been talking about for so long now with the weekly international cargo capacity taking produce fresh from the Darling Downs right into the Asian market," he said.

"But it's not just about Toowoomba.

"For Toowoomba to be successful, it's the regions around us as well."

TSBE and Food Leaders Australia have entered into close talks with three other international freight flight airlines to further boost the amount of clean, fresh and in-demand produce being flown to other markets.

Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane flys into Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong in November last year.
Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane flys into Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong in November last year. Kevin Farmer

Mr Charles said the Middle East and other Asian markets were front runners for the flights.

He said Shanghai, which hosted the TSBE-organised AccessChina'16 delegation earlier this year, was a prime pick for direct export flights.

"This is the start of our international journey now for the region," he said.

TSBE earlier this month revealed to The Chronicle there existed the potential to increase the number of export freight flights to three times a week from as early as April next year.
 



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