HC Deb 25 March 1970 vol 798 cc408-9W
Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy with respect to the use of Gatwick Airport, London, for scheduled services; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

British European Airways have informed the Board of Trade and the British Airports Authority of B.E.A.'s wish progressively to build up the number of their scheduled services flown from Gatwick Airport London. In this B.E.A. are influenced by the growing commercial attractiveness and operational desirability of expansion of services at Gatwick Airport and the growing congestion at Heathrow. B.E.A. plan to start a limited number of day scheduled services at Gatwick in 1971 and under B.E.A.'s plans they should have achieved a substantial number of scheduled services at Gatwick by 1974. The Board of Trade and the B.A.A. welcome B.E.A.'s intention.

Heathrow is not yet saturated, but it is becoming progressively more difficult to accommodate additional flights, not only at the traditional peak hours. B.E.A.'s plans anticipate action which will have to be taken by other companies as well, during the next few years. The Board of Trade hope that others also will see the advantages of Gatwick, and plan ahead, as B.E.A. are doing, and so minimise need for compulsory moves at a later date.

Meanwhile, airlines serving London from abroad with scheduled services will not be compelled to use Gatwick. But newcomers to London must recognise that, if they choose to serve Heathrow in the first instance, they can have no guarantee of continued ability to use Heathrow. The strong advice to them, consistent with that to others, is therefore to establish services at Gatwick in the first instance.

The volume of services that can be accommodated eventually at Gatwick will depend upon the scale of facilities and the protection of the environment. In particular these services will be without prejudice to any decisions that may be taken in respect of limitations of night jet movements. The B.A.A. are already examining their future investment and development against the prospect of a very considerable expansion of traffic there, including the traffic arising from B.E.A.'s plans.