HC Deb 23 June 1965 vol 714 cc1734-5
10. Mr. George Y. Mackie

asked the Minister of Aviation how many British European Airways flights have taken off within five minutes of the advertised time of departure in the last six months; and how many have not.

Mr. Stonehouse

British European Airways tells me that in the six autumn and winter months from October, 1964, to March, 1965, some 35,000 of its flights departed within five minutes of the advertised time, while the remaining 23,000 did not.

Mr. Mackie

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is very far from being the case in flights from Scotland and that fully 50 per cent. of the flights take off late? Is he also aware that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the service even among his hon. Friends? Will he take steps to ensure that B.E.A. is kept up to the mark and that it tries to provide an efficient service which pleases the customer as well as itself?

Mr. Stonehouse

In view of the very important distribution of constituencies in Scotland, I share the hon. Gentleman's anxiety that there should be efficient air communications between the South and Scotland. I have not the details with me of the punctuality of flights to Scotland, but I will see that they are obtained and sent to him.

Mr. Snow

Can my hon. Friend say how this record compares with that of other international airlines serving international as opposed to regional routes to Scotland?

Mr. Stonehouse

The performance of B.E.A. is about the same as that of the other major airlines in Europe.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that, irrespective of what he has said, late departures are about 40 per cent. of the total B.E.A. flights and that much potential traffic is lost to overseas airlines, particularly Air France, because potential customers will not use these delayed flights?

Mr. Stonehouse

I cannot accept that, because the load factors of B.E.A. compare extremely well with those of its competitors.

Mr. Rankin

Is my hon. Friend aware that as a regular traveller on B.E.A. for 20 years I pay tribute to the time-keeping qualities of its service? Is he also aware that in civil flying the governing factor is safety and that nothing must give way to that?

Mr. Stonehouse

I will see that my hon. Friend's remarks are conveyed to B.E.A. I am sure that they will be appreciated.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the best way of keeping B.E.A. up to the mark, particularly with regard to its services to Scotland, would be to encourage competition with the independent airlines? Would he therefore reverse his right hon. Friend's policy on this matter?

Mr. Speaker

That arises on a later Question, I think.