ASEAN appetite for Australian produce powers Qantas freight services
ASEAN nations have long provided a hub for Qantas operations. In 2016–17, Qantas carried approximately 19 million kilos of freight to Southeast Asia across both passenger and charter flights.
Southeast Asia's appetite for Australian-grown produce is now a key source of demand. According to Qantas, the most common freight is perishable commodities such as fruit, vegetables, chilled meat and seafood, as well as general dry goods and airmail. In 2017, Singapore snapped up 80 per cent of Australia's $8.2 million broccoli export crop — all of it flown in and sold fresh.
With ASEAN economies growing strongly, capacity is already large. Qantas uplifts freight on 38 passenger flights per week to Singapore – 14 from Sydney, 10 from Melbourne, seven from Brisbane and seven from Perth – and a further seven flights per week from Sydney to Bangkok.
Demand for fresh Australian produce in Southeast Asia occasionally outstrips freight capacity on scheduled services.
'There has been a recent increase in charter flights to select parts of Southeast Asia for the purpose of delivering primarily perishable products,' says Nick McGlynn, Qantas Chief Operating Officer for Freight.
The growing importance of Southeast Asia to Qantas was underscored in August 2017, when the company announced it would re-route its daily Sydney–London A380 service via Singapore rather than Dubai, while upgrading the daily Melbourne–Singapore flight from an A330 to an A380. This re-routing and service upgrade will significantly increase freight capacity.
Qantas' air-freight network continues to expand. In May 2017, Jetstar began direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. According to McGlynn, the air-freight component of the flight was instantly in huge demand.
'The first return service to Ho Chi Minh City operated at maximum payload, with more than 10 tonnes of freight on board, primarily consisting of garments,' he says.
McGlynn says the key to the success of all of Qantas' routes is the ability to respond to changes in the market and the needs of customers. For Qantas, this means a commitment to operating to the highest standards in the industry. The Australian airline's reputation for reliability and safety is also a brand differentiator in the region.