HC Deb 13 July 1938 vol 338 cc1316-7
50. Sir M. Sueter

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the arrangements made at Port Darwin for the recent inauguration of the first passenger and airmail service between Southampton and Sydney by the Imperial Airways, Limited, flying-boat "Challenger," were in every respect satisfactory and as efficient as airmen might reasonably expect after making a long and trying flight?

Captain Balfour

I am informed that the difficulties experienced at Port Darwin were due, in the main, to the fact that exceptional weather conditions coincided with the first passenger carrying flight, which was of an experimental nature to test the ground facilities available before the start of the full service at the end of this month. I understand that everything possible is being done to rectify any weaknesses brought to light at Port Darwin and that a great improvement had already taken place in the arrangements for the reception of the second flying-boat.

Mr. Mander

Is it not the case that when the Dutch liner arrived a day later, everything was perfectly satisfactory, and why should not that have been the case for us?

Captain Balfour

That was owing to exceptional weather conditions and to the fact that the Dutch liner was landing on a land airport, which is considerably easier in certain weather conditions than on a marine airport; but I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman that when the second flying-boat arrived there the nine passengers were taken off within nine minutes of mooring, that instead of the Customs inspection taking place in the aircraft, all the luggage was taken direct to a hotel, and that this course will be followed until the building of the new Customs station is completed. The proceedings were timed by officials, who were entirely satisfied with the second effort.