But David Cameron rules out U-turn on a third runway at Heathrow in this parliament

Manston Airport

The government is set to make an announcement on what it will do the tackle a shortage of airport capacity “within days” according to David Cameron.

In recent weeks the government has come under increasing pressure from business leaders and Conservative MPs to back down on its refusal to allow a third runway at Heathrow airport.

At the last election both coalition parties made manifesto pledges saying they would not allow a third runway at Heathrow.

But the replacement of Justine Greening, who was opposed to a third runway, as transport secretary with Patrick McLoughlin in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle has been interpreted by many as paving the way for a change in stance on the issue - at least within the Conservative Party.

Now the government is expected to unveil plans for a commission to conduct a review of airport capacity.

Speaking at the first prime minister’s question time of the autumn David Cameron said: “What we need to do is build a process that will hopefully have cross-party support, so that we can look carefully at the issue and deliver changes that will address the problems of capacity that we will have in future years and the issue of the UK’s hub status. I hope to make an announcement about that in the coming days.”

But he ruled out a third runway before the next election saying: “Let me say clearly that, while I believe that we need to establish a form of review that will bring parties together and make a decision about airport capacity, I will not break my manifesto pledge.”