HC Deb 17 December 1979 vol 976 cc12-3
16. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he intends to seek powers to enable him to direct foreign airlines to use particular airports in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Tebbit

No, Sir. Such powers are already available under the Air Navigation Order 1976, should the need arise.

Mr. Adley

But as the failure to use them is entirely due to the retaliation that such use would bring on this country, and as the absence of the use of those powers has resulted in the failure of successive Governments to do anything about any major transfer of airlines from Heathrow to Gatwick, does not my hon. Friend think that the creation of a new third airport in the South-East will mean no more than the creation of an airport used by non-scheduled and charter services? Is it not a cheaper and easier answer to ban these services from Heathrow and Gatwick?

Mr. Tebbit

As my hon. Friend knows, whole-plane charters are already banned from Heathrow. I believe that airlines will find, if congestion is unbearable at Heathrow as it reaches its eventual capacity, that they will have no choice but to go either to Gatwick or to any other facility that we may make available.

Mr. Hordern

Does my hon. Friend agree that while there is scope for increasing international traffic at both Heathrow and Gatwick, if it is to be encouraged at Gatwick the number of charter flights from there is clearly far too high? Will he therefore look into this matter again with a view to seeing whether charter holiday flights in particular could proceed from other regional airports just as well as from Gatwick?

Mr. Tebbit

I hope that there will be many more holiday charter flights from regional airports to cope with the demands from the regions. However, Gatwick is operating well under capacity. It could take a great deal more traffic.