HC Deb 06 December 1989 vol 163 cc221-2W
Mr. Mans

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list those sections of the relevant United Kingdom and EEC statutes which relate to the precedence of allocation of slots between charter and scheduled services at United Kingdom airports; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what examination of the validity under EEC law of his powers to make airport traffic rules has been undertaken; what are his powers to give preference in slot allocation to scheduled carriers over competing charter carriers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin

Section 31 of the Airports Act 1986 empowers my right hon. Friend to make traffic distribution rules which may, inter alia, specify classes or descriptions of air traffic that are permitted under the rules to use any of the airports concerned, and impose prohibitions or restrictions in relation to the use of any of those airports by air traffic of any class or description specified in the rules.

Section 33 of the 1986 Act empowers my right hon. Friend to require the Civil Aviation Authority to prepare for his approval a slot allocation scheme for airports at which a limit on movements has been set under section 32, or at which he judges that demand exceeds capacity, or is likely in the near future to do so. No such schemes have been made, and slot allocation at United Kingdom airports is carried out either by the airport operator or by the airport scheduling committee. Such committees are composed of representatives of airlines operating at the airport, and work in accordance with guidelines established by the International Air Transport Association.

The relevant EC legislation is Commission regulation (EEC) No. 2671/88. Article 1 exempts from article 85(1) of the treaty of Rome agreements between undertakings in the air transport sector, decisions by associations of such undertakings and concerted practices between such undertakings which have as their purpose slot allocation and airport scheduling in so far as they concern scheduled international air services between airports in the Community. Article 5 states that this exemption applies only if any rules of priority established are neither directly nor indirectly related to carrier identity or nationality or category of service and take into account constraints or air traffic distribution rules laid down by competent national or international authorities.