§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much will be spent by his Department in contracts with US airlines in the current financial year. 
§ Mr. Freeman
My Department has spent an estimated £775,000 with US airlines in the financial year 1994–95 and I would expect this level of expenditure to continue within the current financial year. This expenditure was in respect of duty travel on internal schedules and not associated with any specific contracts.
My Department is in the process of completing an open competition to privatise the UK to north America route. This will replace the existing VC10 schedule which operates between RAF Brize Norton and Dulles airport and will commence 1 September 1995. The contracts will be for both international flights from the UK—USA and Canada and provide the facility to book intercontinental internal travel for the MOD traveller at substantial discounts to the normal fares. Responses from the airlines sector were not limited to UK-registered operators.
Until the contracts are awarded I cannot be precise about the cost to my Department for this financial year which will be offset in part by the savings arising from the reassignment of the RAF VC 10 aircraft on more essential operational tasks, such as air-to-air refuelling.