The first planeload of asylum seekers is expected to leave Christmas Island for Nauru later today. Sources have told Fairfax the flight, which will carry single men, is scheduled to fly overnight to Nauru.
The government is declining to confirm any details and is understood to be nervous about someone trying to stop the flight with a legal injunction.
However, plane spotters report a chartered jet owned by the Republic of Nauru is heading across the centre of Australia on path to Christmas Island, presumably to pick up the first load of asylum seekers.
The plane, a Boeing 737, owned by the Republic of Nauru's own airline, Our Airline, left Brisbane this morning, bound for Christmas Island.
Registered VH-INU, the blue and white 737 is operated by the Nauru Air Corporation, wholly owned by the Republic of Nauru.
The decision of the Australian Government to charter the Nauruan jet suggests the asylum-seeker deal between Australia and Nauru is financially handy for the airline, which has experienced tough times as the national carrier of one of the world's smallest and most remote locations.
This comes as Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare announced Australian authorities had intercepted a boat carrying about 148 passengers and three crew east of Ashmore Islands today.
While the passengers will be transferred to Christmas Island for initial checks, they could ultimately be sent to Nauru or Manus Island.
with Judith Ireland