Cathay Pacific’s cargo unit has announced the return of its regular Boeing 747 freighter service to Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport after an eight-month hiatus.
The first reinstated Cathay Pacific Cargo freight flight took off from Wellcamp for Hong Kong at 12:53pm on Wednesday as flight number CX3714.
Australian Aviation photographer Lenn Bayliss was onsite at Wellcamp to catch the jumbo jet’s arrival into the airport.
The weekly freighter service has been in operation since November 2016, however was put on pause in December 2021 over COVID concerns in Cathay’s base of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s strict crew quarantine requirements led to widespread changes to Cathay’s long-haul cargo operations, and saw the airline operating limited services to certain destinations, and keeping others on ice.
“This is an exciting step forward for Cathay Pacific Cargo as we re-introduce this service with strong support from local shippers in the region,” Cathay Pacific regional head of cargo Nigel Chynoweth said on Wednesday.
“It’s also a great opportunity to showcase Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international airfreight hubs while increasing demand for Australia’s agricultural products.”
Since the service was first introduced, Cathay has operated a regular cargo link between Queensland’s Darling Downs and Hong Kong, and has landed its mammoth Boeing 747-8 freighter jet at the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport once a week.
While the initial rationale was to enable local producers in the Darling Downs to export their goods and fresh produce to Asia and beyond via Cathay’s Hong Kong hub, Chynoweth said within the first 12 months of the service’s operation, demand increased significantly for inbound freight, too.
The service typically travels from Sydney to Melbourne before touching down in Toowoomba as the final stop before returning to Hong Kong.
Damian Bell, Executive Manager of Wagner Corporation, the owners of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, said: “Alongside Cathay Pacific Cargo, we are thrilled to continue to support local and surrounding regions and assist with the growing demand for local fresh fruit and veg exports through our world-class facilities.”
Earlier this year, Australian Aviation reported that Qantas also marked its return to Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, after resuming its Sydney-Wellcamp service following a two-year pause.
Qantas announced it will perform 12 return flights between the regional aerodrome and NSW capital city per week, operated by regional subsidiary QantasLink, on its fleet of Dash-8 Q400 aircraft.
Qantas was initially set to reinstate direct services in February, however, this date was later pushed back to the end of March.
The route’s schedule has been dubbed “business-friendly”, with two flights per day on weekdays, and one flight each Saturday and Sunday.
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport chairman John Wagner said the new flights will see over 1,700 seats available between Sydney and Wellcamp each week.