HC Deb 12 November 1984 vol 67 cc402-3
9. Mr. Sackville

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what factors he took into account be fore refusing to allow Singapore International Airways to operate out of Manchester airport.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Michael Spicer)

We should welcome a Singapore Airlines service to Manchester if SIA reduced the number of its London services so that its total frequency to the United Kingdom did not increase.

Mr. Sackville

In view of the recent agreement to allow KLM unlimited sixth freedom, on onward journey, rights operating out of Heathrow through Amsterdam, will the Minister help regional airports and the north-west by allowing Singapore International Airlines equal freedom to operate from Manchester?

Mr. Spicer

We have an agreement with the Singapore authorities under which we enable demand to be met by the frequency of services. We think that the two current daily 747 flights between Singapore and Britain mounted by British Airways and SIA are sufficient. There is no question of our discriminating against Manchester, the development of which we fully support.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the Minister aware that his remarks will cause disappointment and resentment in the north-west? On the related question of helping Manchester international airport to achieve its full potential, will the Minister take the opportunity presented by the imposition of the movement limit at Heathrow to secure the maximum possible transfer of services to Manchester consistent with the true origins of passengers?

Mr. Spicer

The Government fully support the development of Manchester airport, which is progressing extremely effectively. It has doubled passenger throughput in the past 10 years. The Government are doing everything that they can, through the allocation of capital, to encourage that development to its full potential to meet demand.

Mr. Burt

Will the Minister explain what consideration is taken of airport growth in the granting of licences for international schedules and charter flights? Will he explain the apparent difference of approach between the development of services at Gatwick and at Manchester?

Mr. Spicer

It is a question of demand. As the hon. Gentleman knows, 80 per cent. of all traffic that comes into London airports originates and terminates in the south-east. We cannot help that. What we have done is to ensure that Manchester is able to meet the demand. We are confident that it will do so.

Mr. Snape

Is the Minister aware that the decision will be seen as another example of the Government's bias against the north of England? Why are market forces regarded as being sufficient when dealing with buses, but that ministerial dabbling is called for when airlines are involved? Will the Minister consider taking his right hon. Friend on a tour of the country to persuade him that there really is life north of Watford?

Mr. Spicer

The hon. Gentleman cannot have heard what I said. We do everything that we can to encourage the development of Manchester airport, including over the last four years allocating £20 million and, in the last week, an extra £2 million, for further development.