The rejection of Boris Island has secured tens of thousands of jobs in and around Heathrow, Hounslow Council's deputy leader said today.

As expected, the Airports Commission this morning announced the proposed Thames estuary airport championed by London mayor Boris Johnson had not made its shortlist of options for expansion.

Councillor Amrit Mann, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: "We, like most people, thought Boris Island was a flight of fancy and now that it has been sunk, Heathrow won't have to close. This makes many of the tens of thousands of jobs reliant on the airport more secure in the long term."

He reiterated the council's call for a 'better not bigger Heathrow', demanding better noise insulation, an improved Piccadilly line service and a new rail link from the south."

Hounslow Council has always opposed plans for a Thames estuary airport, which would have meant the closure of Heathrow. But it has yet to support any of the remaining options on the table, which are a second runway at Gatwick and two alternative proposals for a third landing strip at Heathrow.

The Airports Commission said it had ruled out a Thames estuary airport because of the 'huge economic disruption' and 'environmental hurdles'.

It estimated the cost to the public purse at £30-60billion and said that while it recognised the need for a 'hub airport', providing connections to destinations across the globe, this should be part of a system of competing airports.

Hounslow Council deputy leader Amrit Mann
 

Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies said: "There will be those who argue that the commission lacks ambition and imagination. We are ambitious for the right solution. The need for additional capacity is urgent. We need to focus on solutions which are deliverable, affordable, and set the right balance for the future of aviation in the UK."

Mr Johnson reportedly criticised the commission's decision as 'myopic' and accused it of setting back the debate over airport expansion by half a century. He had suggested yesterday that Heathrow could survive, as an 'Orly-style airport', even with the estuary airport.

The mayor insisted the estuary airport plan was not dead, with Hounslow Chamber of Commerce cheekily comparing his stance with that of the shopkeeper in Monty Python's famous dead parrot sketch.

Richmond Council leader Nick True also criticised the commission's decision as 'unimaginative', describing the process as being 'like the man doing the three-card trick showing the punters the cards as he does it'. "After four years of sustained dither you can sense the post-general election stitch up coming," he added.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye said: "We have always agreed with the mayor that Britain needs a successful hub airport to compete in the global race for jobs and growth. Heathrow is now the only hub left in the race. We would like to work with the mayor to deliver Heathrow expansion in a way that benefits the whole country while reducing noise impacts for local people compared to today.”

Jock Lowe, the former Concorde pilot behind the independent Heathrow Hub scheme to extend the northern runway, also called for the mayor's backing.

"I hope that our proposal is just the sort of creative idea which should appeal to Mr Johnson," he said. "We can deliver the new airport capacity required cost effectively. And by extending the existing runway we bring no new communities in west London into the noise footprint, so ours is now the most politically realistic plan still being considered by Airports Commission.

"We respectfully ask Mr Johnson to get behind Heathrow Hub in delivering this important project for London and for the nation."

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate, meanwhile, said there was now a clear choice between expanding Gatwick and supporting 'genuine competition' or expanding Heathrow and a 'return to the state monopoly of the past'.

"We believe Gatwick has the strongest case. It is the only option left on the table that can be delivered with more certainty than either of the Heathrow options, and it can be delivered without the significant environmental impacts expansion at Heathrow would inflict on London. It can be delivered faster than any other option, and at low cost and low risk," he said.

"Furthermore, expanding Gatwick will ensure the UK is served by two successful world class airports. It can liberate hub capacity at Heathrow and open up the opportunities for affordable long haul travel to emerging markets for the benefit of everyone, made possible by new generation of aircraft such as the Dreamliner."

The commission is now due to submit its appraisal of the remaining three options for public consultation this autumn.

The government-appointed body is set to make its final recommendations next summer, after the general election.