TASMAN Cargo Airlines – which operates international scheduled and charter services on behalf of integrator DHL Express – has launched a new scheduled freighter service from Singapore’s Changi Airport to Australia, to capitalise on the e-commerce boom in the region, writes Thelma Etim.

The airline, which is the first Australia-based freighter operator with operations at Changi, is to operate five weekly B767-300 freighter services on a bi-directional Melbourne-Darwin-Singapore rotation.

The Sydney-headquartered Tasman’s new service will facilitate the flow of increasing cross-border e-commerce shipments within DHL’s global and south-west Pacific network through its south Asia hub in Singapore, says a statement.

Australia’s e-commerce purchases in 2020 grew by 57 per cent year-on-year, with Australians spending a record A$50.46 billion online, according to Rodney Boys, acting group chief executive and managing director of Australia Post. A 2019 report conducted by JP Morgan reveals the nation’s business-to-consumer e-commerce market was already worth $33.1 billion having grown at a double-digit rate over the last few years.

Lim Ching Kiat, managing director of air hub development at Changi Airport Group (CAG), enthuses: “We are pleased that DHL Express has continued to enhance its hub at Changi to facilitate quick and reliable cargo shipments. This new service will further strengthen Singapore’s position as the leading international freight gateway for Australia – and is especially important for serving growing demand for essential supplies and e-commerce during the pandemic.”

Australia was Changi’s fourth largest air cargo destination market in 2020, with airfreight traffic rising to more than 134,000 tonnes in the year. Along with Singapore Airlines, the carriers operating freighter and cargo-only passenger aircraft services from Singapore to Australia include Kalitta Air, Qantas, Scoot and Sri Lankan Airlines. During the pandemic, much-needed airline capacity between both nations has responded to strong demand not only for e-commerce goods but also for perishables, urgent medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Australia was successfully shipped from Europe through Changi as early as in February of this year, and there have been numerous subsequent vaccines shipments, the statement points out.

Sean Wall, executive vice-president of network operations and aviation at DHL Express Asia Pacific, recognises that Australia is growing as an important market for DHL as local businesses continue to adapt, innovate and adopt e-commerce practices for their business needs. “To cope with rising shipment volumes and ensure that we continue to provide timely deliveries to our customers, we have swiftly responded by adding more flights connecting Australia to the rest of the world. Our robust network, complemented by strong partner airlines, will play a vital role in supporting businesses as they expand their international footprint and presence,” Wall insists.

Singapore is well recognised as an important global airfreight hub. In the first four months of this year Changi, which operates more than 940 weekly cargo flights connecting Singapore to more than global 80 cities, handled some 582,000 tonnes of cargo.

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