An examination of the pros and cons of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary will form a central part of the UK government's aviation strategy, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed.
In a speech in London yesterday, Cameron said he was "not blind to the need to increase airport capacity, particularly in the southeast [of England]".
He acknowledged that any decision taken by the government to increase airport capacity in the UK would be controversial, but added: "We need to retain our status as a key global hub, not just a feeder route to bigger airports elsewhere."
London Mayor Boris Johnson hinted in January that the government was "increasingly interested" in the idea of building a new hub airport.
Critics of the proposal, which was first put forward in October and would provide capacity for 150 million passengers per year, are concerned about the environmental impact of building an entirely new airport. Many believe the focus should be on increasing capacity at existing London airports.
However, ministers have already ruled out the option of building a third runway at Heathrow.
The government is due to produce its aviation strategy this spring.