Armidale airport will be able to handle more, and bigger aircraft once a $3.8m airside apron expansion has been completed.
It's part of a massive project which is hoped will pave the way for further economic growth in the Armidale region.
On Tuesday, the first sod was also turned on the $6.5m Armidale Business Park.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray and the Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said the event marked a "major milestone in the development of the airport".
"The bushfires really highlighted the limitations we had under present tarmac conditions," Cr Murray said.
"Trying to shuffle aircraft around for the ones bringing in firefighters and mixing them with the RPTs was real a problem then.
"We'll be basically doubling the hard tarmac and making it much stronger than it was before.
"So, we should be able to handle twice the number of aircraft.
"At the moment there is only one [taxi] way in and one way out."
Mr Marshall said the projects were going to pave the way for a "renaissance" in economic development in the Armidale Region.
"The focus has to be creating a focus on our region," he said.
"Without opportunities to create new jobs then we're really shortchanging our children and their children.
"This business park expansion is going to be crucial to building a strong future for this region.
"We've got to go for growth, and that's exactly what these two projects are about."