Direct flights from Canberra to China a possibility within five years: airport boss


File photo: VCG

CANBERRA, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Direct flights between Australia's capital city and China could take off within the next five years, according to Canberra Airport's head of aviation.

Michael Thomson, the head of aviation at the Canberra Airport, said that the airport is looking to expand its international routes.

"As Canberra continues to grow, both population and destination wise, we'll see an increase in focus and opportunity," said Thomson, according to The Canberra Times on Friday.

He said flights into China and New Zealand in coming years would potentially lead into services into other locations.

The Canberra Airport's draft 2020 master plan estimates that the airport will handle 4,300 international flights and almost 10 million passengers every year by 2039-40.

"Currently, we have a bit over 3 million people go through the airport, and the airport is designed to take upwards of 8 million," he said.

"There's about one million people within a three-hour drive of Canberra, and the growth at the moment shows an increase quite markedly."

"I think it's viable within five years we'll have a Chinese carrier, it's most definitely one of the things we're working towards."

In addition to the international routes, the airport will also begin flying to more domestic markets such as Hobart and Darwin - the capitals of Tasmania and the Northern Territory (NT).

"Canberra Airport is expected to play an important role in meeting the overflow aviation needs of the Sydney region, even after the Western Sydney Airport is operating," the master plan said.

"Canberra Airport is expected to attract passenger and freight operations. This is likely to include a 24 hour domestic and international freight operations and overflow passenger services."