The airport, Europe’s busiest, is believed to have moved away from plans to use its runways for both take-offs and landings – known as mixed mode.
The strategy would allow up to 1,000 extra flights a week, but residents near the airport have complained that it would subject them to more noise pollution.
The Airports Commission, set up by the government and led by Sir Howard Davies, is this week taking submissions on how to expand capacity in the UK’s skies in the next few years, as part of a wider look at the future of British aviation.
The commission will set out some options at the end of this year, but will not make its full recommendations until after the 2015 general election.
The coalition government has ruled out expansion at Heathrow, though MPs on the transport select committee have asked ministers to reconsider.
The airport yesterday reported a 0.7 per cent fall in April traffic, owing to the early Easter rush this year. In the first four months of the year, Heathrow carried 21.8m passengers, up 1.1 per cent on the previous year.
The west London hub, whose two runways are all but full in their current configuration, said the increase was made possible by airlines using bigger planes.