GOLD Coast Airport’s export potential is severely under utilised with around 10 tonnes of export freight capacity going unused every day on Air Asia X alone.

Air Asia X, Virgin Blue and Pacific Blue flights have up to 16 tonnes of freight capacity available per day, but operator Coast Cargo is sending only two to three tonnes per day.

Coast Cargo managing director John Warren, says the freight forwarders are sending the majority of Gold Coast export goods to Brisbane warehouses where it awaits shipping from Queensland’s capital.

The company has started transporting freight down from Brisbane daily in an attempt to raise the airport’s profile and boost export volumes.

“Ninety five per cent of the freight forwarding companies are in Brisbane which makes it particularly difficult to get the cargo to Gold Coast Airport,” says Warren.

“Around four months ago we began sending trucks to the Brisbane warehouses to freight goods out of Gold Coast Airport. The operation has showed promising signs and we expect when it picks up Gold Coast Airport will get much closer to achieving its exporting potential.”

According to Warren a large amount of freight is also sent from Northern NSW companies straight past Gold Coast Airport to Brisbane.

“It comes down to the exporters not asking the freight forwarding companies if Gold Coast Airport is an option for them,” he says.

“In many cases it is and Air Asia X offers very competitive rates. There are a huge number of companies just over the border who could be utilising Gold Coast Airport but aren’t aware that they can.

“We are trying to get the message to the freight forwarders that if they have a Gold Coast client all they have to do is send their shipments directly to us and we’ll do the checks, measurements, packaging and all documentation. We really can’t make it any easier for them.”

BNY Trading partner Warren Johnson’s Nerang-based business exports up to two tonnes of canned abalone from GC Airport each week.

“We began exporting eight years ago from Brisbane, but switched to Gold Coast Airport when Air Asia X began flying out of Coolangatta,” he says.

“Our primary markets are Malaysia and Taiwan but we also send product to China, Singapore and Hong Kong. The direct flights into Kuala Lumpur are perfect for our export markets, plus the fact that we now send product 20 minutes down the road rather than an hour and a half north is very convenient for us.

“We also get more competitive rates out of the Gold Coast, but the convenience is the main factor.”

Despite poor export figures, John Warren says import volumes through Gold Coast Airport are encouraging.

“Current exports that we handle include surfboards, abalone, machinery parts, boat parts, apparel and various other food stuff products. Comparably, inbound freight is quite strong and we are receiving goods from all over the world,” he says.

“All types of goods such as computers, machinery parts and clothing are coming from Europe and Asia in particular and we are starting to see some good product come in from India and Japan also.”

James Sparke, managing director of Varsity Lakes freight forwarder One Global Logistics, says local exporters aren’t catching on to the opportunities available at Gold Coast Airport.

“Many Gold Coast businesses are still freighting their goods out of Brisbane, simply because they aren’t aware that Gold Coast Airport offers a simple and cost effective gateway to access global markets,” says Sparke.

“Geographically, Gold Coast and Northern Rivers manufacturers are perfectly positioned to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Gold Coast Airport.

“When cargo hits the tarmac in Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia X, the doors open to another 80 destinations, including Northern Asia and the United Kingdom. Many have toyed with the idea of testing overseas markets but mistakenly think it’s beyond the realms of possibility.”

Gold Coast Airport chief operating officer Paul Donovan, says broadened flight options have opened new doors of opportunity and points to increased marketing to get the message to local businesses.

“It’s up to the businesses to secure the export contracts but we certainly need to get on our bikes and push the opportunities offered at Gold Coast Airport,” he says.

“There is no question that we are underdone, but with regular flights now offered to Japan and Kuala Lumpur all it will take is for the message to get to the freight forwarders and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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