With the opening of its new ‘mega’ cargo terminal, Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport is taking a leap forward in its drive to put Southeast Queensland on the map as an international export centre.
The Wellcamp Regional Trade Distribution Centre (RTDC) covers more than a hectare across the land and airside zones. It contains the largest cold storage facilities at an airport on the Australian mainland, and features more than 7,500 square metres of paved area for parking and truck manoeuvres.
‘The RTDC adds a new dimension to Wellcamp’s existing international freight operations and will bring enormous benefits to local producers and businesses,’ said John Wagner, Chairman of the Wagner Corporation, which owns and manages Wellcamp.
‘The RTDC is regional Queensland’s largest fresh food exporting hub, with a gross floor area of 4,000 square metres. Included is 1,500 square metres of state-of-the-art refrigerated storage, freezer rooms and temperature-controlled transit areas, as well as large transit and covered external storage areas.’
That makes it easier than ever to keep produce fresh. ‘The aircraft parking bay is right next to the terminal and we can handle anything that we can fit in the plane,’ said David Harris, Cathay Pacific’s Area Cargo Manager for Queensland.
Wellcamp was designed to create an international export market for produce from the region’s Darling Downs, and since 2016 Cathay Pacific Cargo has operated a weekly freighter – the airport’s first international flight – to carry the region’s produce, particularly chilled beef, chilled pork and salad vegetables, into Hong Kong and beyond.
Cathay Pacific Cargo is currently operating an additional weekly cargo-only passenger aircraft into Wellcamp.
In recent times, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also been using Wellcamp and Cathay Pacific’s flights to export COVID-19 relief equipment, including PPE and vaccines, to South East Asia through Australian Aid.
The new terminal is the latest step in developments intended to make Wellcamp an intermodal freight hub. In the coming years, the inland rail line between Brisbane and Melbourne and Sydney will extend to and stop at Wellcamp, along with a new spur of highway to Brisbane some 150km away.
‘In the long term, this can reduce the number of ships that go into Sydney and Melbourne,’ says Nigel Chynoweth, Regional Head of Cargo, South West Pacific for Cathay Pacific. ‘So shipping companies will have the option of sailing into Brisbane, and using the inland rail direct into rail hubs close to major cities on the eastern seaboard. These are big plans, and Wellcamp will benefit by being able to offer air, road, rail connectivity for domestic and international trade.’
Most of the infrastructural developments will be in place by the time Brisbane holds the 2032 Olympic Summer Games, which in itself will spur further growth for Wellcamp.