HL Deb 26 March 1970 vol 308 cc1497-9

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, in view of the statement, made by the Minister of Information in Gibraltar before the House of Assembly on January 29, 1970, that Gibraltar Ministers believe as a principle of general policy, that big improvements in air communications in and out of Gibraltar will inevitably bring a rapid expansion in economic growth;

  1. (a) whether they agree;
  2. 1498
  3. (b) what is the present position regarding Gibraltar Airways' proposed service to Lisbon as from April 1, 1970; and
  4. (c) whether they propose to encourage further development of air communications to and from Gibraltar.]


My Lords, while improvements in air communications are to be welcomed, they are by no means the only factor affecting the possibility of economic growth. Her Majesty's Government have approached the Portuguese authorities about Gibraltar Airways' proposed service to Lisbon, but they have raised some objections. The airline has been asked to provide additional information to enable Her Majesty's Government to answer points made by the Portuguese authorities.

The development of air services is a matter in the first instance for the commercial judgment of airlines. New services by a United Kingdom airline that were duly licensed by the Air Transport Licensing Board would be welcomed by Her Majesty's Government, who would also be pleased to see new services to Gibraltar by foreign airlines that were operated within the ambit of the United Kingdom's various bilateral air service agreements.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply, and I should like to ask him two supplementary questions. First, can the Minister confirm that the agreement reached between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Portugal regarding a British route between Gibraltar and Lisbon, as outlined in the Treaty series, Cmnd. 8597 of 1952, is still valid? Secondly, may I ask the noble Lord whether Her Majesty's Government will urge upon B.E.A. to increase the frequency of their service to Gibraltar, rather than to decrease it, as they have done over the last three years?


My Lords, in reply to the first question, I can confirm that the agreement is still valid and that the routes referred to are still available to United Kingdom airlines. As to the second question, this is a matter of commercial judgment not only by B.E.A., but also by B.U.A. However, I have asked for an inquiry to be made into the load factors of these services into Gibraltar.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in war time we had regular British air services between London, Lisbon and Gibraltar? Is it not time that B.E.A. inaugurated a regular air service between London, Lisbon and Gibraltar?


My Lords, whether this is a route that B.E.A. wish to operate is again a matter of commercial judgment. At the moment, the Question on the Order Paper asks about Gibraltar Airways' proposed service to Lisbon. That, as I have said, is a route that is open to us under the 1946 Agreement, and we are pursuing this issue.


My Lords, in case these services increase, can my noble friend confirm that there has been no interference in the air space for the lines operating to Gibraltar, and that there is not likely to be?


My Lords, I am not aware of any disturbance to the civil airlines operating into Gibraltar.