HC Deb 06 March 1946 vol 420 cc311-2
11. Mr. Driberg

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he will outline the duties to be performed by the 500 or so airmen who expect to remain at the R.A.F. station, Azores, after mid-March, with particular reference to their relationship with B.O.A.C.

Mr. Strachey

The members of the R.A.F. left in the Azores after the completion of the major cut to which I referred in my reply to my hon. Friend on 30th January, will provide the necessary facilities for American, British and Canadian air traffic, which is predominantly military. These facilities include airfield and flying control, aircraft homing, and navigational aids, including a Long Range Cathode Ray Direction Finding Station. There are also wireless stations to be manned, both for general communications and for sending out meteorological information. All this work, and the normal operation of the base, is still an allied requirement which must continue to be met until peacetime civilian arrangements can be made. The only use to which Lagens airfield is put by B.O.A.C. is as an occasional stop when operating the return ferry service between U.K. and Canada.

Mr. Driberg

Is it not the fact that the military traffic has already been cut down to a very small proportion indeed? While fully appreciating the importance of civil aviation, may I ask if it is really the job of airmen in the Royal Air Force at Service rates of pay to service civil air liners?

Mr. Strachey

This is predominantly a military requirement, and military traffic is much more considerable, but on the general question of helping B.O.A.C. and civil aviation generally to get up speed, I think this is a justifiable task for the Royal Air Force.

Captain Sir Peter Macdonald

As Canadian and American air lines also use this airport, should they not bear part of the cost of upkeep? Could arrangements be made to share the cost of maintaining it?

Mr. Strachey

The traffic I have referred to is not Canadian and American air lines but Canadian and American military planes. I do not say air lines never use the Azores; that is a different matter.