Newcastle International has been dragged into a row between two London airports over where a new runway should be built.
Gatwick Airport has urged a Government inquiry to reject calls for a new runway at Heathrow - claiming the expansion could threaten the “commercial viability” of smaller airports.
It names Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham as airports that could be affected.
But the claim was rejected by managers at Newcastle International, who said the airport had a bright future and insisted they actually backed plans for a third runway at Heathrow.
Managers at Gatwick are attempting to influence the UK Airports Commission, an inquiry set up by the Government to decide how airport capacity in the south of England should be expanded.
The Commission, led by economist Sir Howard Davies, is considering options including a new runaway at Heathrow and a new runway at Gatwick.
But the debate about airport expansion is politically charged, with a number of Conservative MPs opposing a new runway at Heathrow while British Airways is lobbying in favour of Heathrow expansion and London Mayor Boris Johnson wants a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Newcastle International, which serves 4.4 million passengers a year, supports Heathrow’s plans to build a new runway, arguing this will be good for the North East. Many of Newcastle’s customers fly to Heathrow and then transfer on to overseas flights.
However, Gatwick Airport has urged the Airport Commission to give it a new runway instead.
In a submission to the inquiry, Gatwick said: “Further expansion of Heathrow would reintroduce an element of monopoly, expand its market power, and as such could have a detrimental effect on the operations and commercial viability of other UK airports.”
And it pointed out: “Major non-London airports including Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Birmingham are also competing to grow their overseas connectivity.”
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Competition between the UK’s airports has been one of the great successes of recent industrial policy and has delivered more choice, better standards and lower airfares for consumers. Why wouldn’t you want that trend to continue?
“A new runway at Heathrow would give the airport too much market power. However if Gatwick built a second runway it could compete more vigorously with two runway Heathrow, which would deliver benefits for both consumers and other UK airports.”
Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle Airport, said: “We welcome the fact that we have been mentioned as an airport that has critical mass and has been able to provide the North East region with a good selection of services, including a number of hub connections in Europe and also since 2007 the Emirates service to Dubai.
“But those services are complementary to, not in place of, our Heathrow service, which is our biggest single hub connection carrying close to half a million passengers a year. Many of those customers are connecting at Heathrow.”
He added: “We maintain our strong support for an additional runway at Heathrow. We have made our own submissions to the Airports Commission making this clear.
“Heathrow is the UK’s hub. It’s in the interests of the North East and UK PLC that Heathrow Airport is expanded.”