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Brisbane Airport’s $7B cargo haul set to grow as second runway allows more flights

A STAGGERING $7 billion worth of air freight came in and out of Brisbane Airport last year, with a surprising 80 per cent of it being moved in the cargo holds under the feet of passengers.

An analysis of air freight in Australia shows while the quantity of goods moved by plane is tiny, compared with bulk shipping, it accounted for 20 per cent of the value of the nation’s international cargo.

Aviation experts say freight is helping subsidise passenger flights into Queensland and around the world and is ­growing fast on the back of ­internet shopping.

More flights means more cargo space, boosting flexibility for Queensland exporters and speeding internet shopping deliveries the other way.

According to the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia air freight analysis, Brisbane air freight is growing, but is less of an import and export gateway than it could and should be.

It also warns that growth could be hampered by a lack of new infrastructure beyond the airport, unless the State Government starts looking hard at asset recycling — selling publicly owned assets and reinvesting the money on improvements.

“Relative to its population and total international passengers visits, Brisbane Airport is relatively underweight on all major commodity classes in terms of value and ­volume,” the report by Oxford Economics found.

Future Aviation, a two-week series in partnership with Brisbane Airport, Tourism & Events Queensland, Brisbane Marketing and PwC, will highlight the opportunities of the new runway which opens in the middle of next year.

Queensland faces an infrastructure funding shortfall over the medium-term unless the State Government puts asset recycling on the table, the infrastructure and industry think tank says.

“Queensland’s $32 billion infrastructure investment program over the next four years is playing an important role in supporting the state’s rapidly growing population, but this investment is built on shaky fiscal foundations,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Infrastructure funding ­underpinned by volatile ­mining royalties and increased debt is not a long-term recipe for success.

“If the Queensland Government wants to sustain high levels of infrastructure spending while keeping debt in check, they will have to come back to the table on reform and asset recycling.

“NSW and Victoria are ­already reaping the benefits of asset recycling, it’s time Queenslanders start reaping those same rewards.”

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice said we needed to start talking about borrowing to build and protect south-east Queensland’s great lifestyle. “We have a fiscally constrained State Government and a Federal Government focused on a surplus, but we have access to very cheap debt right now,” Ms Radice said. “If you’re going to deliver money into infrastructure, which boosts the economy, creates jobs and stimulates business confidence, then it is a virtuous investment cycle and everyone wins.

“We will be able to manage our debt over time because we have built our economy and enabled sustainable growth.”

Dan Knowles, Future SEQ editor, Courier Mail