Impact Publications : Aircargo_235
Page 28 • AirCArgo AsiA-PACifiC • FEBRUARY-MARCH 2015 Wellcamp gains momentum and now looks likely to become a key facility CRITICS claimed Brisbane West Well- camp Airport near Toowoomba was never going to be a commercial success, that it was a ‘vanity project of a land-own- ing company with development and contracting skills’, that it would soon be looking for subsidies and – for those with a strong socialist ideology – that anyway, all such infrastructure should be owned by the public for the good of the people etc etc. Operationally, it is unlikely that Brisbane West will turn a profit for a while yet. But the airport is certainly an early success and headed for more. The Wagner fami- ly’s grand vision is more than likely to be solidly profitable in time. It is also likely to grow in significance as a cargo sta- tion, although current freight throughput – other than pas- senger baggage – is relatively limited. Positive indicators include: Rex joining QantasLink with scheduled services to Brisbane and regional centres,plus the slow-but-steady build-up of interest in the Wellcamp Business Park which was a core factor in the original Wagner family development plan, the attraction of a reputable aviation training school and use by operators such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service. There is also a good chance that Well- camp will evolve as a significant hub for the resource sector, especially when that moves beyond its current doldrums and into renewed growth. Marketing for the business park de- scribes the complex, including the airport, as likely to become “the business hub of Toowoomba and regional Queensland. “With an aviation, logistics, transport, corporate and mining services focus, Wellcamp Business Park will be Queens- land’s premier airport precinct.” Potential industries are listed as avia- tion maintenance, aviation training and support industries, aviation logistics, trans- port logistics, warehousing and distribution, corporate offices, manufacturing, com- modity processing and factory outlets. One of these has already been secured on quite a large scale through the signing of an agreement with the Airline Academy of Australia. The deal also includes collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland, which will provide under-graduate and post-graduate training in conjunction with the academy’s practical program. “Given our history in providing aviation employment pathways for students in regional areas, it was a natural progression to open a campus at Australia’s first public airport in almost 50 years,” commented academy director and cco Craig Duncan. As anticipated by the Wagners, local gov- ernment and regional agencies are putting their hands up in support of Wellcamp. The South Burnett council has indicated that it is pondering a rethink of economic policy to focus more on Wellcamp, with an eye to flying out fresh produce, especially to export buyers. This would be through Brisbane or Sydney for the time being but Well- camp itself is scouting opportunities for international passenger and cargo flights, both scheduled and charter. There also is talk of an initial service getting under way before the end of 2015. And Toowoomba Conferences, an organisation funded by the Toowoom- ba Regional Council and the business tourism industry is crediting Wellcamp with having helped them secure this year’s Australian Seed Federation annual conference. They are optimistic the airport will be a strong factor in attracting other meetings. Rex began Saab 340 services through Wellcamp on New Year’s Day, on two of the five regulated routes awarded the carrier by the state government in October last year. These are Western Route 1 from Brisbane to Wellcamp, St George, Cunnamulla, Thargomindah and return, and Western Route 2 from Brisbane to Wellcamp, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville, Bedourie, Boulia, Mt Isa and return. QantasLink operates Wellcamp/Syd- ney, with a popular early departure on weekdays. For those given to trivia, the Well- camp name comes from the period of railway construction in the 1860s when a workers’ camp was set up alongside a well, also used for supplying steam locomotives. A QantasLink Q400 receives the traditional welcome at Wellcamp in November.