Canberra is set to receive another repatriation flight after the federal government announced an additional 20 chartered planes to bring home Australians stranded overseas.
Acting foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham made the announcement on Saturday, after carrier Emirates abruptly suspended flights into Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Mr Birmingham said the 20 flights would be "over and above" the existing cap on international arrivals, which national cabinet only recently agreed to temporarily slash amid concern about the threat of the highly contagious UK strain of coronavirus.
A repatriation flight scheduled to land in the ACT later this month was cancelled following national cabinet's decision.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr had expected the next overseas flight into Canberra wouldn't arrive until February.
But the federal government's announcement on Saturday has raised the prospect of a flight arriving before then.
Mr Birmingham appeared to confirm Canberra, Tasmania and the Northern Territory as destinations for repatriation flights during a press conference on Saturday.
The three destinations are logical choices, given the caps on international arrivals in Western Australia, NSW and Queensland have been halved until February 15.
However, The Canberra Times understands no decisions on a flight into Canberra have been made and any call would be subject to negotiations between the ACT and federal governments.
Responding to Mr Birmingham's announcement on Saturday, Mr Barr said the ACT was "open to a request by the federal government to receive a repatriation flight".
"As we have previously stated we have the capacity to take one flight per quarantine cycle [14 days]," he said.
The ACT accepted an international flight from Singapore in late November, but a second flight scheduled to land before Christmas was cancelled.
Mr Birmingham said the 20 repatriation flights would depart from "priority" locations around the world, bringing home Australians identified as being most in "need of assistance".
The government has scheduled 90 return flights over the course of the pandemic.
Around 37,000 Australians stranded overseas have told the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade they want to return.