A decision on increasing airport capacity in the south east of England is expected “very soon”, transport secretary Chris Grayling has said.

The debate on expansion has rumbled on for many years and a decision will end over a decade of uncertainty from both Conservative and Labour governments over whether to expand at Heathrow or Gatwick, its smaller rival airport.

The Airports Commission has already recommended Heathrow, and last week Prime Minister Theresa May was told she would have enough parliamentary backing to approve plans.

Speaking to ITV/Peston Grayling said: “We’re going to take the decision in the not-too-distant-future. I’m not going to give you a set date.”

He added: “There are three schemes on the table for us to consider. They’re all, in their own way, very impressive.”

Flybe CEO Saad Hammad wants Heathrow to be given the green light so “critical” work can start on improving regional links.

“Flybe is heartened by the proposed plan announced last week by Heathrow,” said Hammad. “It paves the way for us, as champions of regional connectivity, to jump quickly into action.

“I am confident we are now in a good position to explore the viability and commercial feasibility of introducing a number of critical new routes for domestic connectivity as soon as the new slots were to become available at Heathrow, to and from where many of our codeshare partners offer seamless onward long haul connections for regional passengers.”

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