A review of operations at Dublin Airport may see the busy transport hub getting a third terminal.

The Herald reports that the Cabinet has approved plans to hire independent consultants to review air traffic congestion at the airport amid plans for a long-delayed new runway.

Repairs to the main runway at the airport are due to start in November and will take 18 months.

"We are facing an extremely delicate situation at Dublin Airport," said Transport Minister Shane Ross.

"There is an overwhelming case to build a new runway and it needs to be built quickly. If we are to avoid lengthy delays for passengers, construction of the new runway will need to start within a few months if it is to be commissioned, as planned, by 2020," he said.

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He added that a public consultation process would examine the "very legitimate concerns" of the residents who live nearby.

Local TD Brendan Ryan (Labour Party) said he was glad that residents' concerns about noise pollution will be given consideration.

"The growth of Dublin Airport is vital both for our country and for the local region. However, any new runway proposal needs to be balanced with the quality-of-life concerns for residents," he said.

Fianna Fail transport spokesman Robert Troy said that that planning permission for the runaway was granted in 2007 and that: "We're nine years down the road and a sod hasn't been turned."

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has said that the main runway, which has facilitated some four million take-offs and landings at the airport, is an "asset urgently in need of repair.”

As the runway is heavily used during the day, the rehabilitation work can only take place overnight. This means that the secondary runway, which is only used 5 percent of the time, will have to be used for overnight flights at the airport, the Herald reports.

More than 45 overnight flights in summer and 25 in winter will be re-directed to this flight path.

DAA spokeswoman Siobhan O'Donnell said that if the new north runway construction had not been delayed, there would have been no need for the secondary path overnight.

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