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'No quick decision' on airport expansion

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There will be no immediate response to the final report of the commission looking at airport expansion, government sources say.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to publish its final report this summer.

It has shortlisted three options: a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow or building a second runway at Gatwick.

The Financial Times reports there will be no decision until Christmas.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said government sources had told him ministers would take "some time" to consider Sir Howard's findings.

The Conservative Party's manifesto promises to "respond" to the final report of the commission, which began its inquiry three years ago. The results were put off until after the general election.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace national trade association ADS, said any delays could harm the UK's global competitiveness.

"We don't have a specific view on just which airport should get a new runway but we need a decision soon," he said,

"We have been waiting a long time for this."

A third runway at Heathrow was proposed by the last Labour government but the plan was scrapped when the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed their coalition government in 2010.

A number of high-profile Conservatives are opposed to Heathrow expansion, including London Mayor Boris Johnson and Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith, who is bidding to replace him.

On Twitter, Labour leadership contender Mary Creagh, a former shadow transport secretary, accused David Cameron of an "unforgivable delay" on the issue, saying the prime minister was putting "Tory party management ahead of the national interest".

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "We are determined to make progress on this vital issue but we need to carefully consider the Airports Commission's full body of work before setting out next steps."

Campaign group Let Britain Fly, which lobbies for airport expansion, called for an end to "political procrastination", adding that "kicking the can down the road for another year is no longer an option".

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: "There has to be a quick decision following a long and thorough process by the Airports Commission."

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