HC Deb 01 April 1976 vol 908 cc580-1W
Mr. Terry Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the talks held with the French Transport Minister in Paris on 29th March on the future of the Concorde project.

Mr. Kaufman

My hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Trade, and I met the French Secretary of State for Transport, M. Cavaillé, in Paris on 29th March to review the progress of the Concorde project.

We and M. Cavaillé noted with satisfaction the significant progress made since the last Ministerial meeting on 25th March 1975. Since then the aircraft has been certificated, simultaneously introduced into commercial services by British Airways and Air France on 21st January, and has demonstrated great reliability in airline service. This reflects to the credit of all concerned.

We also considered how to ensure that the heavy investment made by both countries in Concorde can best be realised. The success of Concorde in service will clearly be critical to the programme, and we therefore determined to take all necessary steps to open suitable routes for Concorde as rapidly as possible. We considered production, and the need to maintain the production facility in light of the present uncertain commercial situation. To ensure that unsold aircraft should be available for purchasers, we authorised the provisioning of essential spares for these aircraft. For the longer term, to preserve the technological advantage in supersonic transport of Britain and France, we commissioned an urgent study by officials of the scope for studies on the future of supersonic transport.

We agreed to meet again to review not only the Concorde project but also collaboration on subsonic aircraft, on which I made a number of suggestions to M. Cavaillé.