Direct flights from Perth to Tokyo could boost the export potential for fruit and vegetable growers in the South West.
The inaugural All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to Perth touched down on Sunday night, the first direct flight between the two cities in almost a decade.
At present growers from the region have to export their produce from the Eastern States, leading to knock-on effects such as shipment delays when connecting flights are cancelled or postponed.
Waroona rockmelon grower Dane Capogreco, from Capogreco Farms, said the direct flights would increase reliability for producers and their wholesale buyers in Japan.
“We currently need to fly with Qantas from Perth via Brisbane or Sydney to go direct into Japan,” Mr Capogreco said.
“This is a major hassle as they sometimes miss the connecting flight and we have many delays and let our customers down on the expected arrival time.”
These delays can sometimes be caused by a lack of capacity on the aircraft for the volume being shipped and have led to shipments being delayed up to 48 hours.
“We were always waiting on confirmation and sometimes one to two days delay before we could send as they couldn’t handle the volume we had to send,” he said.
With a travel time of about nine hours on the direct flights, Mr Capogreco said he expected to be able to deliver a more streamlined service.
“We will then be able to branch out to other destinations like Hiroshima, Kyoto and Osaka via Tokyo and hopefully supply the product much quicker than we have done in the past,” he said.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan said the B787-8 aircraft used on the new route provides a total capacity of 15 tonnes per flight.
“The addition of direct air access from Perth to Japan can provide new opportunities for the export of perishable, high-value agriculture and food products,” Ms MacTiernan said.
She said Japan was a key market for perishable, high-value agriculture and food products such as chilled and frozen meat, with $52.1 million worth of meat exported during 2017-18.
“All Nippon Airways’ domestic network includes over 50 destinations in Japan, with more than 800 passenger flights per day, providing the WA agriculture and food industry access to Japanese cities beyond Tokyo.”