The only realistic solution to the UK’s shortage of hub capacity involves building a third runway at Heathrow, the airport’s owner admits.

Heathrow warned that there is no “quick fix” to the UK’s airport capacity crisis.

It put forward a seven-point plan to the government’s Airports Commission on Friday which would bring “marginal” benefits.

But none of the proposals – to improve reliability and reduce noise – would result in an increase in flights above the current cap of 480,000 a year.

“Although the measures proposed are valuable, by themselves they are no substitute for providing an additional runway which is ultimately required to deliver long-haul connectivity for the UK,” Heathrow told the commission.

“Because Heathrow is full, adverse weather typically causes more disruption than at other airports. The airport recommends that any short-term improvements in capacity should be used to improve reliability and punctuality for passengers rather than add more flights.

“Physical and planning constraints mean short-term solutions to increase flights and generate growth and jobs are limited.”

The airport owner ruled out the “mixed mode” use of its two runways because of the detrimental impact on local residents.

Chief executive Colin Matthews (pictured) said: “The Airports Commission has a challenging task in its bid to find short-term solutions to long-term problems.

“The only real solution to a lack of runway capacity at our hub airport is to build another runway.

“We are not proposing the use of mixed mode as a short-term measure because of the impact on local communities of ending periods of respite from noise.

‘We are listening to local residents’ concerns and we are working hard to develop new long-term solutions that can deliver additional flights whilst also reducing noise.”