AIR Freight Handling Services is calling for tenders for construction of the new Regional Trade Distribution Centre at Cairns.

Queensland minister for state development Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the RTDC would “supercharge” rapid airfreight access for agricultural producers, and aid far north Queensland’s economic recovery.

“We know that global appetites for Queensland’s world-class produce is growing, and this centre will make it much easier for our producers to export their produce faster and fresher,” Mr Miles said.

“It will give Queensland producers easier access to export markets and that means more jobs for Queenslanders.”

Mr Miles said the state government is supporting the project with an investment of up to $10 million through the government’s Jobs and Regional Growth Fund.

State minister for investment and Treasurer Cameron Dick said the RTDC at Cairns International Airport would be the second export-focused centre while the other, at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, opened in late July.

“This project can be the catalyst for a resurgence in export opportunities in far north Queensland. A dedicated Regional Trade Distribution Centre gives our farmers, graziers, growers and other producers and processors the best possible opportunity to get their products from paddock to plane to plate as quickly as possible,” Mr Dick said.

“This includes our fabulous Queensland seafood with growing international demand for crustaceans, fish and prawns, as well as our luscious tropical fruit, vegetables and nuts, and high-quality beef and dairy products.”

Mr Dick said this would be a great asset for Cairns and a boost for regional producers who will more easily be able to access key international markets, particularly those in Asia.

AFHS managing director Barb Ford said they are delighted for the project to now start becoming a reality and are pleased to be working with the Queensland government on a world-class facility that will support exports and create new jobs.

“Our facility will feature state-of-the-art large cold and freezer rooms, and both temperature-controlled and ambient transit areas,” Ms Ford said.

“Advertising for local trades and sub-trades will start from Saturday 18 September calling for local providers to get involved with this exciting project.”

Cairns International Airport CEO Richard Barker said the airport is looking forward to the trade centre becoming operational and the value that it adds to the freight network.

“We believe there is a lot of potential to increase freight exports as a result of this facility, which will benefit the local economy and help with the rebuilding of international aviation,” Mr Barker said.