Direct flights from Canberra to China could be a possibility within the next five years, with direct services to Los Angeles and Dubai on the cards within 20 years, Canberra Airport's head of aviation says.
The forecasts for future international flights in and out of the capital have been made as part of the airport's draft 2020 master plan.
The master plan estimates the airport will handle more than 4300 international flight each year by 2039-40, an average of six return flights per day.
Direct services have been forecast for Auckland, Bali, Fiji, Hawaii, Hong Kong and Tokyo during the next two decades, as passenger numbers are set to increase to almost 10 million per year by 2040.
The airport's head of aviation, Michael Thomson, said flights into China and New Zealand in coming years would potentially lead into services into other locations.
"As Canberra continues to grow, both population and destination wise, we'll see an increase in focus and opportunity," Mr Thomson said.
"There's about 1 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."
It's estimated 3 million people pass through Canberra Airport each year, with 14 international services a week.
Increased domestic routes are also on the cards for the airport over the next 20 years, including direct services to Hobart, Darwin, the Sunshine Coast and Townsville.
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.Michael Thomson
Talks are under way between other international and low-cost airlines to bring more flights to Canberra, although it is not known which airlines are part of the discussions.
Mr Thomson said the master plan laid out showed the airport would grow to meet increasing passenger numbers in coming decades.
"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. "As the number of flights and passenger numbers increase, the airport's always been one of those organisations that invests for the future."
The master plan said the airport aimed to become a major transport hub for passengers unable to access Sydney Airport due to its late-night traffic curfew.
"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 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."
Mr Thomson said that Canberra was a destination in its own right, and the airport would look to expand to tourists and international travellers.