Here is a summary of the main points from the interim report by the Independent Airports Commission:
- Heathrow is effectively full and Gatwick is operating at more than 85% of capacity
- Aviation demand "likely to increase significantly between now and 2050"
- Demand is likely to be concentrated in the South East, where more people live and wages are higher on average
- There is a need for one additional runway to be in operation in South East by 2030 and likely to be demand for a second one by 2050
- Proposals for additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick were short-listed. 'Boris Island' proposal in Thames Estuary will be looked at in first half of 2014 and may join short list.
Some believe today's report did not draw firm conclusions in order to avoid a politically divisive issue before the next election.
Expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are the shortlisted options being considered by a government report into airport expansion.
Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers. It carried more than 69 million people in 2011.