Both Heathrow and Gatwick have been shortlisted as possibilities for new runways by the Airports Commission this morning.
None of the Thames Estuary options have made the shortlist, but the commission said that it will be deciding next year whether the Isle of Grain - Boris Johnson's favoured location - could provide a feasible option alongside others.
The commission has said that it has begun a new study on airport capacity and the issues surrounding it.
It said that the UK needs a new runway in operation in the south east of England by 2030, and there is likely to be a demand case for another one to be operational by 2050.
Commission chair Sir Howard Davies said:
The capacity challenge is not yet critical but it will become so if no action is taken soon
Stansted and Birmingham airports have also not been included on the commission's shortlist, although they will be considered as options for any second new runway needed by 2050.
The commission is looking at two options for Heathrow, and one for Gatwick, and will present a final recommendation to government in the summer of 2015.