HL Deb 19 February 1970 vol 307 cc1279-80

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that the restaurant and hotel facilities at Heathrow Airport are adequate to cope with the unexpected return, or delay of (a) a Jumbo-jet aircraft; (b) two Jumbo-jet aircraft]


My Lords, I understand that the catering facilities at the intercontinental terminal at Heathrow can at present provide some 850 places, which is more than twice the average passenger load of a Jumbo-jet. The British Air-ports Authority have plans for doubling this capacity by mid-1971. The B.A.A. do not at present provide hotels, but there is hotel accommodation near the Airport for well over 2,000 beds. There are plans for more than doubling this accommodation. In exceptional circumstances, these hotel and catering facilities may well be overcrowded, but the developments proposed seem to be reasonably in line with requirements.


My Lords. I am very grateful to the noble Lord for that full Answer. Will he agree that it is one thing to be able to cater for the normal run of air services, but an entirely different thing to be able to cater for the unexpected return of these colossal aeroplanes? Am I to understand from his reply that if these aircraft have to return, as a result of, say, some mechanical failure, the services will be adequate for people to be fed in an acceptable manner?


My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Earl's opening philosophical remark. It is not possible now to cater entirely satisfactorily if there is a complete close-down through fog or for other reasons. But I I am told that the British Airports Authority—and this is a matter for them —have in hand proposals which, taking into account the as yet rather uncertain rate of build-up of introduction of these new aircraft, which at the moment is only one a day, should reasonably meet the circumstances. I think we have all had experiences enough not to be absolutely confident in all circumstances, but from my inquiries I feel that the British Airports Authority are very well seized of the problem. They have in hand a £13 million development. I can give the noble Earl much more detail if he wants it.

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