Return of A380s to Perth to drive greater trade

The giants of the skies, the Airbus A380s, are returning to Perth this year — and with them come renewed opportunities to showcase Western Australia to the world.

Emirates Airlines’ A380s will restart on the Dubai-Perth route on November 1, and Qatar Airways will bring back its A380 flights to and from Doha one month later, on December 1. In 2022, the two airlines are celebrating their 20th and 10th respective anniversaries flying into Perth, and the use of the bigger aircraft will lead to a capacity surge of more than 45 per cent on both routes.

Add to this the fact that Qantas has now partnered with India’s Indigo Airlines, and Malaysia’s Batik Air (formerly known as Malindo Air) has started a new Perth-to-Denpasar route that runs four days a week, and Perth Airport is well and truly back open for business.

According to CCIWA International Trade and Investment Centre head Michael Carter, the return of the A380s and the arrival of Batik Air will help to reintroduce some stability to international supply chains by allowing greater cargo transports to and from Perth.

“We’re looking at a massive increase in the amount of air cargo that can now be transported compared with the COVID times,” Carter said.

“This means WA’s finest produce can now reach international markets more quickly and in pristine condition, and WA businesses can potentially expect goods from overseas to arrive more quickly than they have been since supply chains broke down in the wake of the pandemic.”

Perth Airport CEO Kevin Brown said momentum was building behind the recovery of international aviation into Western Australia with the decision by both Emirates and Qatar to reinstate A380s in daily services to Perth.

Brown noted that more than 90 per cent of international air freight at Perth Airport is carried on passenger services, and about 10 per cent ($804.6 million in 2018-19) of WA’s annual agrifood export value is transported via air freight.

“We look forward to welcoming back the flagship A380 aircraft to Perth again,” Brown said.

“Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, our partnerships have continued to grow with cargo and repatriation flights over the past three years and this is now evidenced by enhanced connectivity with both these airlines. The value to the Western Australian economy is undeniable and was at risk when air freight capacity was reduced significantly and the transportation costs of exports increased during the pandemic.

“International passenger traffic is still down approximately 44 per cent on pre-Covid numbers [but] as more international airlines return to Perth, we expect to see the number rise and therefore the opportunity for freight in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft.”

Perth Airport will continue to work with its airline partners and the State Government to increase services to Perth as international airline connectivity is crucial for the tourism, business, and education sectors’ recovery.

Batik first began operations in Australia in 2015, choosing Perth as its first Australian destination.

The airline has already reinstated its pre-Covid service to Kuala Lumpur, initially running just one flight per week before moving to 10 flights per week thanks to the positive response from the market and passengers.

The airline has now added Perth-Denpasar with four flights a week, adding almost 70,000 seats of capacity into the market.

“It’s a good sign that international aviation is on the way back,” Brown said.

WA’s top three air freight exports

By weight Tonnes By value $AUD
Swine meat 5677.4 Gold 21.6m
Lobster 4445.8 Seafood 201.7m
Lamb 3413.2 Diamonds 130.3m
Strawberries 2350.6 Fresh meat 91.1m


WA’s top three air freight imports

By weight Tonnes By value $AUD
Confidential items 5866 Gold 3427m
Crude animal 2137 Confidential items 684m
Vegetables and fruits 2050 Heavy machinery 264m
Heavy machinery 3932 IT equipment 262m


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