It's hoped we'll be flying overseas from Newcastle Airport by November.
Work will start this week on a major upgrade to the terminal, allowing it to cater for international services.
The state government is providing $850,000 for custom, immigration and quarantine facilities.
The airport will now ramp up discussions with the airlines about beginning flights to New Zealand, Bali and Fiji, with the aim to begin services before the end of the year.
The first direct overseas flights will most likely be to Auckland.
"The ability to fly to places like Fiji, New Zealand and Bali is an exciting prospect for the region," Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
"Ultimately I think it'll go along the same lines we've seen at Canberra Airport, where international flights are flying out of there now."