Written Answers. - Air Services.

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

295 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport his plans regarding a new terminal at Dublin Airport; if legislative changes will be necessary to effect his plans; and the timetable for same. [19338/03]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

298 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the way in which he intends to proceed in relation to increasing capacity at Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19350/03]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 295 and 298 together.

Dublin Airport is our largest airport and primary international gateway accounting for 15 million passengers last year or 76% of total air passengers in 2002. Traffic at Dublin Airport is expected to double to 30 million passengers by 2020 and one of the key objectives of our aviation policy is to ensure that our principal gateway airports, including Dublin Airport, are in a position to provide cost competitive and appropriate infrastructure to meet the current and prospective needs of airlines and other aviation companies, consistent with a commercial mandate.

One of the main issues in the programme for Government is the commitment to examine proposals for a new independent terminal at Dublin Airport and to progress such proposals if the evidence suggests that such a terminal will deliver significant benefits. I sought expressions of interest from the market for this last autumn and received 13 responses from a range of national and international companies and consortia. The panel of experts which considered those expressions of interest concluded in its report of February this year that such a terminal is both operationally and technically feasible. The panel also believes that an independent terminal is a viable strategic option for the development of Dublin Airport and would elicit considerable market interest. As pointed out in the panel's report legislative changes would be required to allow the development of an independent terminal at Dublin Airport.

I am continuing to give urgent attention to the independent terminal concept and it would be my intention to discuss the matter again with Government in the near future.