Employers’ organisation the CBI has called for the government to rethink the issue of new runways.

Director general John Cridland said the group had changed its position amid growing concern from members that the UK was becoming uncompetitive due to a shortage of direct air links to emerging markets.

“For goodness sake, time is of the essence, get on with it,” he told the Financial Times.

“What the government has got wrong is there is going to have to be an extra runway because of capacity to serve the south of England. 

“I’m not going to tell you where that runway should be, but I’ll tell you where it could be. It is either going to be at Heathrow, at Gatwick, at Stansted or I think a perfectly credible option is to look at Birmingham.”

Cridland said building a third runway at Heathrow would be an obvious medium-term solution but should not cancel out an entirely new airport for the region in the longer term.