The key task for the commission, headed by former CBI chief Sir Howard Davies, is to take the political sting out of making a decision between building a third runway at Heathrow, expanding other London airports or building a completely new airport to the east of the capital.
Sir John Armitt is also a former chief executive of Network Rail and of Costain. He has also agreed to lead a review of UK infrastructure planning, finance and delivery for Labour party leader Ed Miliband, so he is now squarely batting for both sides.
Other members of the Airport Commission are:
- Professor Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics and director of the LSE Cities research centre
- Vivienne Cox, former CEO and executive vice president of BP Alternative Energy
- Professor Dame Julia King, vice chancellor of Aston University and a member of the Committee on Climate Change, with a background in the aerospace industry
- Geoff Muirhead, former CEO of Manchester Airport Group.
The commission is expected to present its initial report by the end of next year to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin – or whoever is holding that office by then – and a final report by 2015.