Canberra Airport eyes flights to Singapore, NZ, Hong Kong, Vietnam

Ambitious plans to connect the nation’s capital to more overseas destinations.

By David Flynn, May 13 2024
Canberra Airport eyes flights to Singapore, NZ, Hong Kong, Vietnam

Canberra Airport plans to bring back Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways in the next few years, while also adding flights to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The destinations are all earmarked in the privately-owned airport’s new Five-year Route Development Plan, which could see the capital anchoring a domestic and international network to over 22 destinations spread between more than a dozen airlines.

The airport says it is already “in a wide range of discussions with airlines including Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and potentially Vietjet.”

“We have already laid extensive groundwork, engaging with airlines both domestically and internationally,” says Michael Thomson, the airport’s Head of Aviation. 

“In the coming months, we will further strengthen these partnerships through targeted presentations and meetings in Hong Kong at the end of May, New Zealand in June, and Singapore later this year to present our plan.”

Qatar Airways could be the first to take off, or rather return, considering the airline previously flew to Canberra as an add-on ‘tag’ leg to its Doha-Sydney service.

Speaking with local media outlet RiotAct, Thompson said Qatar Airways had agreed that Canberra was its preferred next destination in Australia, and tipped it would run a daily service tagging through Sydney or Melbourne.

“We have reached contractual agreements with them, so we’re ready to go as soon as they have the opportunity,” he said.

Singapore Airlines also used to run a similar tag service from Sydney, but like Qatar Airways, axed the route during the early days of the pandemic.

At the time of writing Canberra’s only international route is to Fiji, although Batik Air will begin direct flights to Bali from June 14, 2024.

And while Air New Zealand remains a prime candidate for hops across the Tasman to the like of Auckland and Christchurch, those routes could also come under the wing of Qantas’ nimble Airbus A220.

Thompson predicts flights between Canberra and Hong Kong would probably start as a seasonal summer route across the December-February period.

He also allows the airport’s goals were ambitious but at the same time realistic.

“We believe that providing a greater choice of carriers and destinations not only makes prices more competitive but also opens up boundless opportunities for our community, connecting our city to the rest of the country and the world.”

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1198

So it seems Qatar may re-enter CBR not because they really want to but it is the only way they can increase services to MEL or SYD given the current limits imposed on them by the federal government.  It hardly seems a recipe for long-term success because, as soon as they can have more direct services to the larger capitals, they will increase non-stop services and ditch CBR again.

It is hard to see SQ resuming flights.  They have open-skies between Australia and Singapore so would only bother if the CBR flight could stand alone.  Maybe QF may one day consider CBR-SIN with the A321XLRs.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 167

The elephant in the room: Canberra's population is far too small a base to support widebody international services...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 84

Cairns' population (159,000) is a third of Canberra's population (452,000), and Cairns supports widebody international services. So it's highly simplistic to say that Canberra doesn't have the population.

The reason that Cairns can support a widebody service with its population is because of inbound tourism. (In the same way Queenstown NZ, population 12,000, supports multiple international flights per day).

This clearly presents an opportunity for Canberra/ACT. If they can make it an attractive tourist destination (even if not quite as attractive as Cairns!) there is clearly the population to support viable international flights.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 167

Let's go enjoy the more spectacular, pristine and un-visited reefs and islands of tropical Canberra. Said no one ever ;)

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 160

Cairns is nice tho

03 May 2021

Total posts 49

I’m surprised there isn’t an NZ flight already. I don’t really think Vietjet would work. I can’t imagine there being much traffic between Canberra and Ho Chi Minh, and especially since a Vietjet flight would require their high density a330. Hong Kong and Singapore are kind of the same but not the same extent.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2015

Total posts 29

I say "never say never" but I have to agree that given Canberra's population It's hard to imagine any airline making any reasonable profit in or out of this city. I believe that when Qatar Airways was serving Canberra that the number of passengers travelling to/from Canberra was very low

22 Sep 2017

Total posts 78

Canberra's population is quite wealthy and mobile compared to other towns of the same size, and of course there is plenty of inbound business/intergovernmental traffic.  Considering the numerous daily MEL-SIN and SYD-SIN flights (with connections all over south-east Asia) adding a CBR-SIN daily flight seems plausible.

12 Aug 2019

Total posts 16

From what I heard Singapore Airlines are interested in coming back, but they don't want to fly a triangular route.

Suspect they'll come back when the terms suit and at a time of their choosing (can't wait to ditch the Sydney drive).

23 Jul 2018

Total posts 3

Don’t forget the surrounding areas that will add to the “total” population ie. Goulburn, Yass, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra etc.

A lot of us country people would much rather fly from Canberra than having to go through the madhouse of Sydney.

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