The West Australian is reporting on comments by Broome International Airport at the recent Kimberley Economic Forum to upgrade facilities to allow for international flights to Singapore.

Direct flights from Singapore to Broome would service almost 50,000 passengers a year, proponents behind the project claim.

Broome International Airport manager Nick Belyea said the proposed twice-a-week route, to begin by 2015, would use jets able to carry more than 170 passengers, with corporate traffic expected to almost double on the back of Browse gas developments within the first year of operation.

International tourism would also significantly increase to the Kimberley, and Broome would become a gateway to the rest of the nation, he said.

With Broome just four hours from Singapore, the route would shave seven hours off flights by negating the need to pass through Perth, reducing costs and congestion.

At the Kimberley Economic Forum yesterday, Mr Belyea said plans to upgrade the airport's runway and terminal to international standards, including a new arrivals hall, would be submitted to the shire within months.

Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Skywest had all expressed interest in the new route, Mr Belyea said. Australia's North West chairman Chris Ellison said the route would be a "turning point for tourism in the north" and "a game changer" for the region.

Mr Ellison said the project had already won "green lights" from all levels of government and he urged businesses to back the plan to convince airlines of its economic viability.

Singapore was an established "hub and spoke" airport which would connect Broome to the rest of the world, including the growing Chinese tourism market, Mr Belyea said.

Western Australian Tourism Minister Kim Hames said he was working with Mr Ellison to secure direct flights to open up the region to new tourism markets. for full report.