Details of the investors behind plans for an international airport in Co Offaly are likely to be revealed in coming weeks.
Midlands Airport Developments wants to build an airport with a 3.4km runway, longer than the new one proposed for Dublin, that will handle passenger and cargo traffic at a site between Horseleap and Tubber in Co Offaly.
The company should be in a position to conclude talks with landowners and to announce details of those who are backing the project in as little as four weeks, according to director Patrick Little.
A group of Irish and international investors are supporting the plan, but the company has yet to reveal their names. The project could cost up to €500 million in total.
The company wants to cash in on underused infrastructure in the midlands by building a new airport to ease pressure on Dublin, where passenger numbers are set surpass the record 25 million recorded last year.
The proposed site is close to the M6 motorway and Mr Little said the company already had a commitment with Irish Rail to build a spur connecting the airport with the Dublin-Galway line.
Mr Little, an architect and planning consultant, has already got the project categorised as critical infrastructure, which means its planning application will go straight to An Bord Pleanála.
“That means that there should be a planning hearing within six months of making an application and a decision a six months after that,” he said.
He said the airport would handle two to three million passengers a year initially, but would also have a real advantage when it comes to cargo distribution.
“Most Irish exports are actually flown out of UK airports; we are going to be much more cost-effective than that,” he said.