GATWICK bosses have begun a UK tour campaign in a bid to win backing for a second runway.

They believe another runway would provide cheaper flights to and from the south east and greater economic benefits across the country.

The tour has already reached Manchester and future events will take place in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

Heathrow has also launched an "election-style" manifesto in a bid to gain support for its expansion plans.

In December the Department for Transport confirmed that the commission's shortlisted options - new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, or extension of an existing runway at Heathrow - were ''viable''.

But it also announced that further work on noise, pollution and compensation - which it expects to be concluded over the summer - will be carried out before it makes a decision on which project to support.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: "With the Government shortly set to make a decision on airport capacity it is important that the regions and nations of the UK know how expansion in the South East will benefit them.

"Rather than concentrating growth in a corner of west London, Gatwick expansion will spread more evenly the economic benefits which will help deliver regional powerhouses across the UK."