THE time it takes for New England and North West products to hit the shelves of international markets could be halved if they were exported from an airport in the region, according to a report presented to the NSW government.
At the moment, produce from the region takes an average of 33 hours to reach an export hub such as Hong Kong when exported via Sydney Airport.
However, if products were exported via an airport in the North West, the total transit time would be reduced by around 15 hours.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said in his view, there was the potential for three freight hubs in the north, south and middle of the state.
"We could fill that role in the north - we're at the centre of an agricultural bowl and we've got a food processing hub," he said.
"There is essential value in delivering these products to the market in real time.
"We've had many discussions with supermarket chains and markets in places like Hong Kong, and there is a high value placed on fresh Australian produce."
The report says to underpin a local air freight hub, beef and lamb would be the "target high-value export products".
However, Cr Murray said access to international markets would provide the opportunity to grow different crops, such as leafy greens, that are more water efficient.
"We've had no access to these markets, so there's been no commercial imperative to deliver that type of produce," he said.
"The advice Namoi Unlimited got when it looked in to this, is leafy greens have a better return per megalitre."
Tamworth airport would need a number of upgrades to cater for international freight, with an extended runway the "big ticket item".
"There are other logistical things needed to get the goods in and out, such as cold storage, warehouses, distribution systems and quarantine considerations," Cr Murray said.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the feasibility study "reminds us of what we can do when it rains".
"Our farmers and regional communities are fighting to hold on during this crippling drought but I want to make sure they know there is a future in regional NSW when it does finally rain," he said.