Canberra Airport will finally see its international ambitions takes flight this week, with Singapore Airlines tipped to announce a Singapore-Canberra service running four days a week.
It's the first step in the nation's capital – which has to date only seen domestic flights – becoming an alternative to Sydney Airport for travellers not just within the ACT but the southern and southwestern centres of New South Wales, including Wollongong.
The airport will also be ideal "overflow airport" suggests Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron.
"Sydney will become more crowded and that's when our role as an overflow airport comes into play," Byron (below) has previously told Australian Business Traveller.
"We're the only curfew-free airport between Sydney and Melbourne. We won't formally be a second Sydney airport, but we believe there will be parts of the market that will grow for us in response as Sydney's capabilities are challenged."
The new Singapore Airlines flights are expected to include a Canberra-Wellington leg to connect to the neighbouring New Zealand capital.
South-East Asia and New Zealand have long been 'first cab off the rank' targets for Canberra Airport, while the airport's 2009 masterplan also flagged China as a likely 'medium-term' route.
The recent redevelopment of Canberra Airport included an 'international terminal' zone with space set for aside for customs, immigration and quarantine facilities, although the fitout won't take place until international services are ready to begin.
The terminal’s departure lounges and aerobridges are capable of switching from a domestic function to an international gate, with two of the existing 14 boarding gates earmarked for international flights and provisions for a further six international boarding gates.
The runways have also been upgraded to cater for larger jets including the Boeing 747 and Boeing 777-300ER, along with what the airport describes as "Airbus A380 restricted operations."
"So we've got a fully kitted-up airport, you can go anywhere off our runway with a fully-laden aircraft that you can go out of Sydney Airport," Byron says.
The likelihood of the jumbo and superjumbo shutting in and out of Canberra is of course much less so than smaller aircraft such as the popular Airbus A330 and potentially the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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