Air freight from Dubbo to Asia possible in the future


Air freight from Dubbo to Asia possible in the future

A study commissioned by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana has found that an international air freight facility would be possible in the region, sometime in the future, Chair John Walkom said.

Conducted by Urbis, the Orana International Air Freight Feasibility Study showed that Dubbo City Regional Airport would offer the best location for the hub, given its level of infrastructure and facilities. However, some changes would be needed to bring it up to international standards.

“It would require investment in upgrading, particularly a cargo terminal, IT and customs facilities, including quarantine and border restrictions.”

Upgraded runway surfaces would also have to be installed to meet the potential future needs.

“The master plan for Dubbo airport indicates the potential for the airport to accept new, and in some cases, larger types of aircraft, over the next 20 years. In its current form, however, Dubbo airport is incapable of handling large international services. There’s also no dedicated handling or cold storage facilities for fresh produce.”

The investigation showed that the most opportune market for air freight would be into Asia to transport small items such as mail, pharmaceuticals, precious gems, newspapers and parcels, electronic devices and food stuffs.

“Generally, international air freight will consist of products that are high value added, low weight and volume, perishable and urgent.”

At the moment, the region has minimal value-added freight and items are packaged for processing rather than consumption.

However, there is an opportunity for more value-adding to occur in the region, which would in turn add value capture and more employment that will drive the freight link.

“With the demand for Australian safe shelf-ready produce in Asian markets, particularly China, demands will only increase for value adding done in the region and then placed on shelves overnight in the export market.”

Mr Walkom added that this is a feasibility study with a vision for the Orana region and for all of western NSW, with Dubbo as the regional hub and ‘capital of Western NSW.’

A flight route between Dubbo and Hong Kong would be the most viable but it is also more realistic for an airline operator to run a passenger service rather than a dedicated freight service.

“An airline operator can move air freight at a significantly lower cost by using the belly space of a passenger aircraft rather than using a dedicated freighter.”

The concept would also need the support of the Australian export industry and airline operators.

“Over the medium term, growth markets will remain strong for Australian exporters, although competition for access can be expected to continue to rise.”

“Tourism will also play a major role, particularly with investment in facilities such as Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the current appetite from international tourists visiting Australia,” Mr Walkom said.

Current major export destinations for Australian air freight include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Japan, USA and ASEAN markets. 

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