Gatwick Airport bosses have revealed plans for a second runway - vowing to rival Heathrow as one of London's most important hubs.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said research and environmental studies would now begin, with a view to opening the new runway in the 2020s.
Mr Wingate said rather than relying on Heathrow as the dominant hub alone, it would be best to have three strong airport destinations.
The news comes as it emerged London Mayor Boris Johnson threatened legal action to bring forward a Government inquiry into future airport capacity.
Wingate told The Sun: "We think Gatwick is a solution - affordable and deliverable.
"The debate about how the UK has to have one hub airport is over-simplistic. It should be about how in the future London is connected with the rest of the world.
"Look at New York, there are three airports there.
"This would spread the economic benefits and environmental impact and mean there was a more resilient network in the event of snow or fog.
"We wouldn't be at the mercy of a dominant Heathrow."
He also gave his views on the 'Boris island' Thames Estuary airport idea, saying: "We haven't built a new runway in 60 years so I doubt we are going to be able to get our heads around building four at an estuarial airport."
Arguments are ongoing as to whether a third runway should be built at Heathrow. The Government is refusing to budge on budget, but airlines like BA say Britain will be cut off from big economies of it doesn't push forward with the idea.
A 1979 agreement states that no runway can be built at Gatwick before 2019, but that after this, a second runway could increase capacity by around 11 million passengers a year from its current 34 million by 2030.
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