HL Deb 03 May 1956 vol 197 cc182-4WA

asked Her Majesty's Government (1) if they can state who was responsible for the design of London Airport, and the total cost to date of its construction and its ancillary machinery; (2) what number of outward and inward flights London Airport is designed to handle per 24 hours, and what was in fact the number of outward and inward flights during 1955; (3) if they can state how many persons are employed at London Airport, what is the total cost of its maintenance per annum, and how many outward and inward bound passengers respectively passed through London Airport in 1955.


(1) The design of London Airport was referred in 1945 to an Advisory Layout Panel appointed by the Minister of Civil Aviationto consider and make recommendations as to the best layout for an international civil airport at Heathrow within a defined area and making maximum use of the three runways being constructed for R.A.F. purposes". The recommendations of the Panel were accepted by the Minister (Lord Winster) and the report was published as Ministry of Civil Aviation Publication No. 4. The total cost of the construction of London Airport and its ancillary machinery met from Civil Aviation. Votes up to 31st March, 1956, was approximately £23¾ million. In addition, about £1¾ million has been spent on the purchase of land and certain costs incurred outside the airport.

(2) The handling rates for London Airport are estimated for the guidance of the operators on an hourly basis, in accordance with the traffic demand which varies a good deal over the 24 hours. These hourly rates range from a maximum peak acceptance rate of about 75 movements in perfect weather, to about 32 movements in the worst weather, with intermediate rates according to conditions. The daily demand varies between seasons and sometimes between days of the week. To estimate a daily handling rate on the basis of some selected average hourly rate would give a misleading apparent surplus of capacity over demand, largely because at present the utilisation of the airport by night is very low. The maximum number of movements handled in one day in 1955 was 686, including 240 pleasure flights, and over the year there were approximately 60,000 inward flights and the same number of outward flights.

(3) The number of people engaged in the running of London Airport, excluding those employed by operators et cetera based there, was just under 3,000 and the total number of passengers dealt with in 1955 was just under 2¾ million (excluding passengers on pleasure flights). The cost of maintenance was about £300,000.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before seven o'clock.