The aviation and travel industries are letting the government off the hook by rallying to competing options for airport expansion.

The industry should unite on a single demand that politicans name the deadline for a decision, according to Airport Operators’ Association chief executive Darren Caplan.

Writing for today’s Travel Weekly Business:am, Caplan says: “There is no consensus. Everyone is arguing for different things.

“There is the distinct possibility the sector will get nothing, or something which will fail to make any real long-term impact.”

The Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Barbados heard the proposals for a new hub airport in the Thames estuary dismissed yesterday by former transport secretary Lord Adonis, who suggested an independent review of the options for capacity expansion.

But Caplan warns: “The political objective is to kick this issue into the long grass [because] any decision means upsetting someone.

“The fear is that the Conservatives and Labour will find ever more elaborate ways not to make a decision or to make a sub-optimal decision.”

Caplan says: “We are missing a trick here. We are so busy fighting for different options that we are failing to hold the government’s feet to the fire.

“The question everyone should be putting to Number 10, Number 11, the Department for Transport and the Department for Business . . . is what is the timeline for making a decision, and what is the deadline?

“At the moment, the government is benefiting from a divide and rule approach. It is time we united in asking: ‘what is your timescale and the deadline for a decision’. ‘If you want airport capacity, as you say you do, when will you decide?'”