HC Deb 22 October 1973 vol 861 cc670-1
5. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met the British Airways Board; and what discussion he has had with it about its estimated use of Maplin Airport.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

My right hon. Friend last met the board on 8th May; he expects to meet it again shortly. I myself have frequent meetings with the chairman and other members. Discussions have been invited with the board about how its services might best be allocated between London's three airports, after Maplin has come into operation.

Mr. Adley

Bearing in mind that my hon. Friend told me in a Written Answer a few days ago that at no city in the world is BOAC required to operate services to more than one airport, why does he intend to shackle our national carrier with the responsibility of trying effectively to operate at more than one airport in the London area? What discussions has his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, who is handling the Maplin project, had with the chairman of the British Airways Board?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend will realise, I am sure, that the British Airways Board already operates from Heathrow and Gatwick. As for conversations which my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment may have had with the British Airways Board, that is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend to answer. However, I am sure that any conversations which we have had in the Department are readily available to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Is it not the fact that both in New York and Paris there are several airports? Is it not customary for aircraft to land at different airports? When Maplin comes into service, is it not possible that it may be extremely expensive to land at Heathrow and much cheaper to land at Maplin?

Mr. Heseltine

The pricing policy in respect of the three London airports in the 1980s has not yet been decided. However, the hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that there is often more than one international terminal in major cities.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that according to the latest information available to me Heathrow Airport will be completely cluttered and blocked by road transport unless something is done within the next two years? That is another argument for having a third airport.

Mr. Heseltine

There are many people who think that in certain conditions Heathrow is overcrowded now.