HC Deb 28 June 1978 vol 952 c1378
8. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had recently with the USSR authorities about increasing the height limit for civil aircraft flying between West Germany and Berlin.

Mr. Judd

None, Sir.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Is the Minister aware that the present height limit was set in 1945 by the four Powers, when piston-engined aircraft were operating, and it was the optimum height for those aircraft? Is the Minister aware that it is a totally uneconomic height for jet aircraft? Is he further aware that British Airways are of the view that if they were allowed to operate at heights up to 20,000 ft. they could considerably improve passenger comfort? Will he press these points on the Soviet authorities?

Mr. Judd

Such an approach would obviously have to be co-ordinated with all our allies and would have to take into account many aspects of the air services agreements. The situation basically remains as described in the answer given to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson), that: quadripartite agreements establishing the air corridors did not impose any height limits. The Soviet authorities have, however, sought to assert that there is a 10,000 ft. ceiling. The Three Powers have never accepted that this is so, but in the interests of air safety"— which must obviously be paramount— Allied aircraft have generally flown below this height."—[Official Report, 31st July 1972; Vol. 842; c. 21.]