HL Deb 15 April 1980 vol 408 cc118-20

2.49 p.m.

The Earl of KINNOULL

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action is being taken to facilitate fuel economies in airline operations.


My Lords, fuel-saving measures in the airline industry lie largely in the hands of the operators themselves by the choice of aircraft and by improvements in aircraft operating procedures. The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority do what they can by trying to improve air traffic control services and shorten air routes.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Can he say whether the Government are holding joint discussions with the operators to find ways of achieving economies? I have particularly in mind the air traffic control, especially over Europe. I wonder whether the Government have evidence that air traffic problems cause wasteful fuel consumption and lead to higher prices for fares?


My Lords, the National Air Traffic Service, which is a joint service run by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Defence, are very much aware of these matters and do what they can within the constraints of military requirements and other considerations to keep air routes to a minimum. I can also say that the air traffic control authorities in Europe, for whom we have no responsibility, are equally aware of these problems.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord has read the recent report of airlines in America over-economising on the amount of fuel carried. I hope that the noble Lord will say that pressure for economies here will not extend so far as that.


My Lords, I have read the report to which I think the noble Lord is referring, but the noble Lord, and your Lordships, should not confuse on the one hand the amount of fuel consumed with, on the other, the amount of fuel carried. The case to which the noble Lord refers was an aircraft which arrived with little or no fuel remaining, and that was because it did not carry enough fuel in the first place.


My Lords, would my noble friend bear in mind that the fitting of RB-211 Rolls-Royce engines to the Jumbo 747s saves 10 per cent. in fuel? Is not this something to be encouraged—not only using British engines but saving fuel at the same time?


Yes, my Lords, it is indeed the case that the RB-211 is a very highly cost-effective engine.

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