Airlines have rejected proposals by Gatwick that capacity restrictions should be imposed on airports such as Heathrow during winter months to reduce extreme weather delays and cancellations.

The organisation that represents more than 80 airlines in the UK says the main issue is a lack of runway capacity at Heathrow, which has been limiting services due to snow, ice and poor visibility since Friday.

Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) chief executive Dale Keller said: “It should not be for airports, or the government, to dictate where airlines and passengers fly.

“The major cost of delays and cancellations are borne by the airlines and their customers. The airline community is working with a huge range of stakeholders who all play a role in keeping aircraft flying.”

He added: “It is simply not cost effective for airlines to split operations over different airports for short periods and it is unlikely their customers would want this either.

“This week’s delays and cancellations demonstrate what the airlines have been saying for years, that additional runway capacity at the UK’s hub airport is required to improve air transport resilience, not only international competitiveness and growth.“

BAR UK will present the airlines’ view to the Davies Commission as part of the forthcoming consultation on airport capacity, Keller added.