HC Deb 29 July 1963 vol 682 cc15-6
22. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will issue a general direction, in the public interest, to British European Airways to speed up the establishment of air bus services between main cities in the interests of trade and commerce.

Mr. Marten

No, Sir. It is for the airlines to consider whether and when the potential traffic and types of aircraft available will make it economic to introduce services of this type.

Mr. Digby

Is it not important that we should be in the forefront of developments of this kind? As only once in the last 16 years has any direction been given, is not this the kind of subject on which a direction could be given about what is really intended?

Mr. Marten

No; it is a question within the commercial judgment of the airlines concerned. Under the Civil Aviation Licensing Act, 1960, B.E.A. and other operators are free to apply to the Air Transport Licensing Board for a licence to operate any services for which they consider there is a commercial demand. It is not my right hon. Friend's policy to compel operators to run services against their commercial judgment.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are many complaints about a lack of co-ordination between incoming and outgoing services? Does he realise that many services which are advertised as connecting services do not, in fact, connect? For instance, people coming from abroad and desiring to go to Aberdeen or other parts of Scotland very often find that the incoming plane arrives too late to catch the northbound plane, or it arrives too early and there is a lack of co-ordination in that way. Will the hon. Gentleman look into this with a view to seeing that the services really serve?

Mr. Marten

I recognise that these things happen, but the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary question goes very wide of the Question put down on the Order Paper.

Mr. Lee

Does not the whole question of inter-city travel now demand more urgent attention, since the less time people spend in the air the more time they seem to spend at airports and getting into the cities? Would it not serve a useful purpose if the Minister were to have a complete examination of this matter and report to the House?

Mr. Marten

In fact, there is a working party going into this question and considering the development of short-range aircraft for this purpose. It is working under the chairmanship of Dr. Lighthill, and its members include representatives of B.E.A. and the independent airlines. I do not think that it will be too long before it reports.