Three weekly Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo planes could be a reality from Wellcamp Airport as soon as April next year.
Three weekly Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo planes could be a reality from Wellcamp Airport as soon as April next year. Kevin Farmer

Region on track to triple international cargo flights

DIRECT exports to more global markets are within reach for Darling Downs producers if they can shore-up supplies and tap into the opportunities.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise and Food Leaders Australia CEO Dr Ben Lyons says the 115-tonne Cathay Pacific freight flight could triple its services in the region as soon as April should businesses assure international markets of supply levels.

As AccessChina'16 project leader, Dr Lyons said ongoing co-ordination between exporting Darling Downs businesses and international markets - primarily China - was critical to reaching that milestone.

The first Cathay Pacific flight on November 22 is nearing capacity and will fly direct to Hong Kong from Toowoomba after loading cargo from Sydney and Melbourne.

 

Three weekly Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo planes could be a reality from Wellcamp Airport as soon as April next year.
Three weekly Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo planes could be a reality from Wellcamp Airport as soon as April next year. Kevin Farmer

"We want to make sure we get as much interest in the co-ordination so Cathay Pacific can action the second or third weekly international freight flights as quickly as possible," Dr Lyons said.

"There is potential for an increase in those freight flights to begin from as soon as April next year.

"The success of the first weekly freight flights give the producers from AccessChina'16 the potential to come aboard on additional services."

Access protocols remain a major barrier under the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, with FLA and TSBE continuing its lobbying and co-ordination with both country's governments.

 

First international passenger flight by Qantas from Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport to Shanghai. October 23, 2016
First international passenger flight by Qantas from Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport to Shanghai. October 23, 2016 Bev Lacey

How it plans to do that remains unclear as pressure mounts on the Australian Government to ease access issues including specific produce markets such as stone fruits, avocados, eggs and chilled beef.

A KPMG export report, released last week, found the biggest obstacle to tapping into trade deals was confusion about how they work, and the lack of awareness of the benefits.

The same report found Australian businesses missed upwards of $14 billion in trade revenue due to the apparent failure to create trade deals with south-east Asian markets in Japan, South Korea and China.

At least 15 businesses from the $1.5 million AccessChina'16 - the largest, privately organised trade mission to leave Australia - are preparing to export direct into China.

TSBE has begun investigating future delegations, particularly to countries with existing FTAs - Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the Middle East.

"We shouldn't discount places like the USA as Cathay Pacific freight flights give us reach into North America," Dr Lyons said.

AccessChina'16's success was in creating greater exposure for Darling Downs agriculture as well as its resources and energy sectors.

"Flow-on effects for our region in the resources and energy sector centre around greater awareness of our region internationally and the significant links made with the signing of two MoUs on the trip," he said.

 

The interior of the Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane which flew into Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong on November 23, 2015.
The interior of the Cathay Pacific 747-8 jumbo cargo plane which flew into Wellcamp Airport bound for Hong Kong on November 23, 2015. Kevin Farmer

TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles inked a Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding with Hangzhou Chamber of Commerce general secretary Xio Min during the delegation designed to boost trade partnerships and shore up supply chains.

Following months of talks, Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio and Jin Xiaoming, director of the (People's Government) Yeucheng District in Shaoxing City signed the MoU during AccessChina'16, encouraging the parties to collaborate on across various industries including science and technology, culture, tourism and education.

"I think we're pretty excited about the opportunities and TSBE held a very important gathering of both sides of business over there; people wanting to do business with us and our people wanting to business with them," Cr Antonio said.


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