HC Deb 05 May 1965 vol 711 cc1330-1
3. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Aviation what action he is taking to improve freight facilities at London Airport.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation (Mr. John Stone-house)

A new freight terminal on the south side of the airport, with a total area of 157 acres and capable of handling at least 550,000 short tons per annum, is being planned by my Department in conjunction with the airline operators.

British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways propose to build jointly a freight handling unit occupying between 20 and 30 acres within the terminal, and the other British and foreign airlines are leasing areas that will enable them to build transit sheds with a ground floor area of 600,000 sq. ft. It will be possible to load up to 30 aircraft at any one time directly from the transit sheds.

I hope to see constructional work start before the end of this year.

Mr. Onslow

I welcome this encouragement for the future, but does not the hon. Gentleman agree that in the interval the turn-round could be greatly speeded up if pallet loading were practised? Could the hon. Gentleman say what obstacles there are to this and what action he is taking to overcome them?

Mr. Stonehouse

I will see that inquiries are made into that point. We are investigating all the ways in which freight handling can be improved. This is an increasing part of the work at Heathrow. We are expecting the volume of freight handled there to grow enormously within the next five years. Certainly all ways of improving efficiency will be examined.