Gatwick and Heathrow Airport have moved a step closer to an expansion after being shortlisted by The Airport Commission's independent review in airport capacity.

The interim report published today (December 17th) has highlighted two projects that it will be advancing over the coming months. Both Gatwick and Heathrow Airport have applied to create new runways while the latter also wants to extend one of its existing runways. The report is designed to create one net additional runway, ready for operation in the south-east by 2030. There is also provisions for a second to be in use by 2050, should it be deemed necessary.

It represents a major setback for mayor of London Boris Johnson and backers of his new airport in the Thames Estuary. The 'Boris Island' project has been touted as solving London's air capacity issues but would mean the closure of Heathrow to raise funds for the development. It would be situated off the Isle of Grain and would see passengers need to take a ferry to the site but could accommodate more aircraft currently handled by London's airports.

The Airports Commission stated that it will be undertaking further study of the Thames Estuary project in the first half of 2014. Officials said a decision will be made later in the year on "whether that option offers a credible proposals for consideration alongside the other shortlisted options". Other projects that did not make the cut was a possible expansion of Stansted or Birmingham with the commission wanting to focus on London's two major airports.

Sir Howard Davies, chair of the commission, said: "Decisions on airport capacity are important national strategic choices and must be based upon the best evidence available.

"The commission has undertaken a fresh, comprehensive and transparent study of the issues. This report is the product of extensive consultation, independent analysis and careful consideration by the commissioners."

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