The “mixed mode” use of Heathrow’s twin runways is being seen in some parts of government as an “easy fix” to the South East’s capacity problems.

Such a move would support 60,000 additional flights a year without having to re-open the controversial debate about a third runway at Heathrow, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Currently, one runway is used for take-offs and the other for landings. The pattern is changed halfway through the day to minimize noise disruption for local residents.

Heathrow owner BAA would be forced to seek planning permission for mixed mode, which would take it above its current cap of 480,000 flights a year from the London hub.

The Department for Transport has so far ruled out mixed mode at Heathrow but the scheme could be re-visited in the government’s forthcoming aviation white paper.

Rival Gatwick will next month float the possibility of building a second runway after 2020 as it seeks to become London’s main link to Asia.

The Aviation Foundation will tomorrow bemoan “more than 60 years of indecision” by successive governments on aviation policy at a conference in London, according to the newspaper.