HC Deb 01 February 1956 vol 548 cc908-9
27. Mr. Callaghan

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the average number of days in a year in which scheduled services of British airlines are unable to use London, Idlewild, and Paris, Le Bourget, airports, respectively.

Mr. Profumo

It rarely occurs that the scheduled services of British airlines are unable to make use of any of these airports for so long a period as 24 hours. In fact, there were no such occasions in 1955 at London Airport, Idlewild, or Le Bourget, apart from a period when the latter was closed during a strike of French Air Traffic Control Officers.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the Minister aware that there is some concern that London Airport is not able to be used nearly as frequently as the other two that he mentioned because of fog? Has he made any estimate of the loss of revenue arising from that, and is anything being done to speed up fog dispersal units?

Mr. Profumo

It is true to say that London suffers from fog to a certain extent more than other aerodromes. I have no estimate of the amount of money lost. There have been various estimates. I think the hon. Gentleman will realise that one of the chief reasons for building Gatwick is that it can be an alternate for bad weather. With regard to fog dispersal, one must remember that F.I.D.O. will only clear fog and not low cloud or heavy rain, which also cause diversion from London Airport.

Sir T. Moore

Will the Minister therefore agree that it is a very good thing for the safety of passengers in this country and those coming from other countries that Prestwick Airport should be available?

Mr. Profumo

Prestwick is at present the second international airport in the United Kingdom.