London’s main airports should be allowed to expand wherever they wish without Whitehall interference, according to the boss of Ryanair.


Responding to the Airports Commission interim report, the no-frills carrier warned that the three preferred options would only be delivered by 2030 and again by 2050 – long after they will be of much use to any consumers.


Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “While we welcome the progress made by Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission, its shortlist shows that it continues to pander to environmental concerns at the expense of UK air transport, tourism and jobs.


“Now that London has three competing airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – the obvious solution is a market based one which allows each of the three airports to construct an additional runway as and whenever they wish to, subject obviously to planning permission.


“The UK government doesn’t determine where new hotels or new tourism facilities are developed.


“This repeated political interference in much needed runway expansion in the south-east continues to result in under capacity, excessive pricing and a bad deal for passengers.”


Ryanair said it believes that a market based solution which permits each of the three competing London airports to develop additional runways as and when they wish to do so, is the best way of finally removing the “dead-hand “of political interference from UK aviation policy and creating the additional runway capacity that is needed.


Meanwhile, Flybe said aviation policy should serve all of the UK, not just London.


Chief executive Saad Hammad said: “Extra investment in capacity around London should be for the whole country, not just for London.


“The government should mandate reserved slots in London airports to serve the regions at an affordable cost so that the regions too can benefit from hub connections to London and onwards to the rest of the world.


“In our submission to the commission, we pointed out that only six UK cities (Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle) currently have access to Heathrow, compared to 20 regional UK cities in 1990.


“We are disappointed that Sir Howard seems not to have addressed the crucial issue of regional connectivity to any new national hub near the capital.”


He added: “Aviation policy must serve all of the UK, not just London. Regions have poor access to London airports, being crowded out by more profitable international flights.


“We risk having a London hub only for the south-east of England and transiting international passengers, with people outside London increasingly having to use Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam as their hub to access the rest of the world.”