HC Deb 09 May 1977 vol 931 cc898-9
21. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he last met the Chairman of British Airways.

Mr. Clinton Davis

My right hon. Friend met Sir Frank McFadzean and his board members on 31st March.

Mr. Goodhart

Has the Minister had any discussions with the Chairman of British Airways about an approach to IATA in order to seek a reduction in the excessively high surcharge on Concorde fares which is likely to price Concorde out of the market, even if it is allowed to land in the United States?

Mr. Davis

There have been no such discussions.

Mr. Hoyle

Does my hon. Friend agree that it would have been better to appoint as Chairman of British Airways someone who believed in public ownership rather than someone who spent his time writing pamphlets for a centre run by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph)?

Mr. Davis

My right hon. Friend and I are concerned to have as Chairman of British Airways somebody who cares about the corporation and has proved and is proving his ability to carry out that job well. I believe that that is true of Sir Frank McFadzean. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already made comments on Sir Frank's extraordinary political and economic views in other regards.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

When the Minister next meets the Chairman of British Airways, will he suggest to him that he takes a holiday abroad on a package tour, travels with the Chairman of the British Airports Authority and, when landing at Heathrow or Gatwick, experiences all the frustrations which ordinary people face instead of the red carpet treatment which he normally finds?

Mr. Davis

I think that the Chairmen of British Airways and of the British Airports Authority are fully aware of the present difficulties at Heathrow and Gatwick. The hon. Gentleman knows that extensive changes are taking place at both those airports, and one unfortunate consequence is inconvenience to passengers. I hope that when the developments have taken place considerable advantage will be gained by passengers.