Workers at the new T2 terminal in Dublin airport

THE Department of Transport has spent close to €850,000 on consultants advising it on the process of hiring an operator for the new terminal at Dublin airport.

The fees were paid to Goodbody Corporate Finance, Matheson Ormsby Prentice solicitors, and aviation consultants Mott MacDonald, according to figures released by the department.

When the Dublin Airport Authority was given the go-ahead to build the new terminal at Dublin airport, the department said it would consider an independent operator for some services there. Transport minister Noel Dempsey began that search last year.

It is understood that if an independent operator is to run the terminal and ensure it opens on schedule in November, then a decision needs to be made by the Department of Transport in April or May. Allowing the airport authority to run the terminal itself has not been ruled out.

"The DAA plans to open Terminal 2 in November 2010 and facilities management arrangements will be finalised based on an appropriate lead-in time for opening. The pre-qualification exercise has been completed and the outcome will be made known shortly," the Department of Transport said in a statement.

The DAA has submitted a "benchmark price" to the consultants on how much the terminal costs to run. Bids from third parties will be compared to that benchmark.

The new terminal will house all of Aer Lingus's flight operations and those of the American airlines that use the existing terminal.