A second runway at Gatwick is emerging as an early frontrunner to solve Britain's aviation crisis, The Standard understands.
Key Whitehall figures believe that a "Heathwick" link-up between Gatwick and Heathrow is the most feasible and acceptable solution on current evidence.
Experts say it is technically possible to overcome a series of difficulties including baggage transfers between the two airports.
Preparatory work, including obtaining planning permission, could start before 2019 when a ban on building the runway and using it will run out.
The revelations should reignite the airports debate, with campaigners already vowing to fight Gatwick expansion.