Gatwick Airport should be renamed Croydon International, a politician has suggested.

Councillor Steve O'Connell, the borough's London Assembly member, urged rebranding coupled with expansion to see the airport reborn with closer links to the "economic powerhouse" of south London.

He said he had discussed the idea with Stewart Wingate, Gatwick's chief executive. 

Mr O'Connell, Croydon Council's cabinet member for finance, said: "Gatwick is 15 minutes from East Croydon, it is seen as a London airport and with the investment coming in to Croydon it is fast becoming the economic powerhouse of the south.

"So it would make sense to me to make even more of a closer alignment between greater Croydon and Gatwick, build a new runway – probably after 2020 – and then align it with Croydon.

“It then becomes the London airport of the south – Croydon is the economic powerhouse of the south, so it is Croydon International Airport.

"Gatwick will need an overhaul and I think there will be time for it to be reborn as Croydon International Airport."

Mr O'Connell acknowledged the name change could sound "silly" and said he had yet to canvass support for the idea.

But he added: "You go to cities where there are airports that aren’t in the town itself, they are just outside.

"So it doesn’t have to be slap-bang in the middle of London to be a London Airport. Stansted is London Stansted so let’s have London Croydon.

“We are flying the idea up the flagpole and we’ll see where it takes us."

The Kenley councillor said Mr Wingate had been noncommital on the idea of changing Gatwick's name.

Mr O'Connell said: “He was pleased to hear that somebody was supporting the idea of a Gatwick expansion. He wouldn’t dream of commenting on the name change."