London could not support two hub airports, Heathrow is expected to claim today.
Heathrow says new research by independent group JLS Consulting proves that no cities "have successfully split demand" between several airports.
Experimenting with the model in London would involve a major bet on Britain's future prosperity, it claims.
The report looks at various cities around the world which have multiple airports, such as New York, Tokyo and Moscow, and concludes that a metropolis without a dominant hub suffers from "poor international connectivity" as a consequence, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The most often quoted example of a "constellation" model – New York – still has one airport that is used as a hub, the report argues.
At Newark airport, where United Airlines accounts for 70% of traffic, 47% of passengers are on transfer. This compares with just 18% at New York JFK.
In Tokyo, where international and domestic flights were split between Narita and Haneda airports, the inability to transfer on to connecting long-haul flights drove customers to Incheon Airport in Seoul, the report claims.
Heathrow argues that only a hub airport would provide the UK with sufficient connections to fast-growing Asian economies, because airlines struggle to make routes viable unless they are able to fill aircraft with transfer traffic as well as local passengers.
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: "This research shows that no world cities have successfully split demand across multiple hub airports.
"However convenient it would be to believe that London could be the first, we cannot bet the UK's economic prosperity on wishful thinking. The UK can only benefit from improved long haul connections by building a bigger hub airport."
However, Gatwick says London and the South East could still attract sufficient connections by capping Heathrow's growth and allowing new runways to be built at alternative airports, such as its own and potentially also at Stansted.
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