View Full Version : proposal for new freight-only airport near Murray Bridge

30th Jan 2017, 11:56
SA opposition leader Steven Marshall has floated the idea of a new freight-only airport: "At the Murray Bridge end of the new corridor, there is a perfect location to build a new, freight-only airport with no curfew, thus operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This type of airport can produce significant efficiencies as the flight schedule can be determined based on the most cost-effective time to land at the alternate destination. As it is a freight-only terminal, there is also substantially cheaper operating costs. There is a lot of interest from private equity to invest in airports of a similar nature. Being able to access export markets across Asia by efficient airfreight will open up enormous opportunities for our fresh produce and advanced manufactured goods. An airport of this type would have the capacity to attract products for export from across our state, and would potentially attract export goods from the west of Victoria as well. Countless new and existing businesses would have a major change to market access capacity and cost structure." More info at: 24 Hour Freight Airport - GlobeLink (http://www.saglobelink.com.au/24_hour_freight_airport) Any thoughts, especially from those with air freight experience?

31st Jan 2017, 03:36
This sounds like an innovative, interesting investment that would help swing the Australian economy away from the mining dependence.

It won't happen.

31st Jan 2017, 04:45
It won't happen.
Call the Wagners of Wellcamp fame.

31st Jan 2017, 04:52
Could they not just lengthen the Mildura runway a bit?

31st Jan 2017, 05:47
Another white elephant proposal. A few years ago someone wanted to upgrade Port Lincoln so tuna could be flown to Japan. Then there was fresh milk from Warnambool to China. A better and cheaper idea would be to use Avalon for any requirement from SA and Vic.

31st Jan 2017, 06:20
...and Parkes!!!

31st Jan 2017, 07:43
And Renmark.

31st Jan 2017, 08:10
If Hobart can be lengthened for a daily milk run in a B767 to China any other airport surely can, it's just which ever state government/ council/ business identity could be bothered to get it organised.

31st Jan 2017, 09:26
HBA is not being lengthened for a daily milk run by QF to China. When the decision to upgrade Hobart was made the once a week B767 freight service to China was not on the 'radar'.

31st Jan 2017, 10:08
They'll need plenty of kero flares for night operations unless they can get a power cable in from NSW.

31st Jan 2017, 15:03
To all the naysayers, JOBS ANYONE??????!!!!
What a great idea a really great idea.
Now if they would only do a couple in WA!!!!!!!

31st Jan 2017, 21:58
Jobs are good but at what cost when there are other alternatives available.
Looking at the latest statistics for PER there appears to be a lot of empty locker space on flights in and out of PER.

1st Feb 2017, 09:10
open up enormous opportunities for our .......... advanced manufactured goods.

Like cars!!

oh,...hang on....

1st Feb 2017, 11:03
I suspect they spoke with the Thomas meatworks people in Murray Bridge. About how much does a freight-only airport cost? $200m? And do we have any freight only airports in Australia? And how would freight-only fit in with the vast majority of domestic air freight which I'm guessing is carried in passenger planes?

8th Feb 2017, 23:26
are there any knowledgeable comments on the viability of a freight-only airport?

9th Feb 2017, 00:34
My Association was asked to provide information for the Parkes Airport proposal in the late 90s. I also was asked on behalf of a pilots association to present at the House of Reps enquiry into airfreight chaired by Mark Vaille.
We did a lot of research in Australia and overseas and while that was nearly 20 years ago I cant see that much has changed.

To give a reasonable price for exports the freight operator needs to get close to break even on the inbound leg. There are times when the export price is so high that this doesn't matter ie lobster tails for Chinese New Year but at the time that didn't come near balancing out the bad times. It appeared that if there wasn't a 52 week charter cycle then the rates for casual charter when the crop was in, was prohibitive. Remember we are talking a regular 110 tonnes here for a B747 freighter.

The US operators used to refer to it as the Golden Triangle. Break even from the US to Australia, loss to Asia and good profit from Asia to US with a full load of electronics and clothing. It was similar for other routes. This was the excuse that the Australian airlines used to lease in freighters from the likes of Evergreen. At that time Australia didn't have 5th freedom rights from Asia to the US. This later changed, but the US and other charter continued

For this airport to break even it needs services every week, not just when it suits the farmers/producers to export. The airport fixed costs are high unless the built structure has been covered by Government. The problem here is if the Government sees a need for subsidy, the next lot will sell it and the airport will fail unless its used for something else ie real estate.

Then there is the reality already referred to that most domestic freight goes in pax aircraft. While I can see that export freight such as fruit can be combined by road, this is not so easy for imports and especially packages which would normally be distributed around the Country via underbelly space. Do you really want to wait days for your ebay purchase to come via road?

If Parkes and Avalon haven't worked how this one will is an interesting question. Perhaps things have changed over the last 20 years but it seems to me watching the international freight terminal at Sydney that despite a huge change in overseas purchases, the ratio of inbound and domestic freight to pax freight has remained roughly static. The Feds to have this data if anyone is interested.

I think that the Mark Vaille House of Reps enquiry into export of primary produce by airfreight will also still be available for the Government. It makes interesting reading.


9th Feb 2017, 01:07
20 years ago we did not have a growing middle class in China who are paying top dollar for premium Australian product.

And we did not even have iThingies

9th Feb 2017, 03:15
Isn't "Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport" progressing?

9th Feb 2017, 05:35
Cathay starts regular freighter service out of Brisbane West Wellcamp | Australian Aviation (http://www.google.com.au/url?q=http://australianaviation.com.au/2016/11/cathay-starts-regular-freighter-service-out-of-brisbane-west-wellcamp/&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwjKhsP3sYLSAhVGebwKHWeEBmIQFggaMAE&sig2=qsSsel33vTO4KQ2P3J_alw&usg=AFQjCNFgb_UmUKBsEGn3fffbEBzL3QdNJg)

Weekly freighter flights and talks of same to Korea.

The naysayers wrong again...

9th Feb 2017, 06:06
If it works so well why hasn't Avalon with the backing of one of the largest transport groups in Australia serving freight?

There certainly is a middle class market in China but to justify a stand alone airport it needs services 52 weeks of the year which for fresh primary produce is pretty difficult.
It also needs good inbound traffic and the means to distribute it quickly and economically which I see as underbelly freight, especially for an airport away from a Capital City.
As I understand it Wellcamp is close to Brisbane so the situation is a bit different?

There have been many attempts to resurrect the Parkes project and over the time. There have been some pretty big players involved but in the end the sums didn't add up, despite the Chinese middle class market and the better location of Parkes


9th Feb 2017, 22:16
Not sure how Wellcamp freight is going either. Supposed to run weekly on Tuesdays but there have only been 3 flights this year, nothing for the past 2 weeks, although the aircraft has still operated to both SYD and MEL every week.

10th Feb 2017, 00:43
The problem for any remote airport and by that I mean away from main cities is the standing costs. Apart from the built structure there is a fuel farm and distribution system (even if that is just tankers), engineering equipment (both servicing and greater), cargo handling, stairs for access and specialised staff. This is on site for 365 days of the year. Asset wise, for handling large aircraft, we are talking millions for use 2 or 3 hours per week. The temptation would be to use cheaper very used gear but that throws up reliability and schedule issues. It gets worse when you throw in casual staff and the temptation to cutback on maintenance due to costs

While it is possible to contract some of the staffing, people like load masters and LAMEs wont work part time away from a city and FIFO isn't really an option either.

It is very hard to justify all this for 2 or 3 flights per week but without it there can be no reliable service. Clearly initially the loss will be tolerated but it may take years to even get to break even so in our instant return on investment era I cant see it


I'm trying to think of any cargo only airports that I have seen or heard for international freight. The only ones that come to mind are domestic US which are bases for outfits like FedEx and UPs etc and virtually all of those were hand me downs from the USAF so no real initial setup costs for buildings , fuel, runways and taxi ways.

31st Mar 2017, 11:27
The Shepparton Council is planning a new airport for future domestic flights as the current airport is too small. Interestingly, they are planning a runway long enough to cater for large jets for direct flights to China. I imagine this would need to be in the order of 3000m. This seems feasible as the region is growing rapidly and has already passed 120,000 people within 40km.

Alternatively, Mangalore already has a 2000m x 50m runway which wouldn't take much to extend to 3000m, though it would have to be completely redone given that it is only PCN 6.

It seems that 4000nm with a 50 ton payload would be right at the range limit for a 767-300...........is this correct?

1st Apr 2017, 06:05
thanks for the informed comments; it makes you wonder about the SA Liberal party, whether they consulted anyone at all before the come up with this white elephant idea.