HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 cc48-9W
Mr. Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his policy regarding ownership of regional airports by local councils. [77910]

Ms Glenda Jackson

Many regional airports, of different sizes, are owned by local authorities. The largest of these airports are structured as public airport companies, with the local authorities as the shareholders. Airports can benefit from local authority ownership and it is for local authorities to decide for themselves whether they wish to own airports, either wholly or through joint ventures with the private sector. The Government will remove central controls over borrowing from public airport companies which are able to demonstrate that they are financially sound. This will enable them to compete for business on a level playing field with private sector airports. Earlier this month we laid an order which will remove borrowing controls from four public airport companies with effect from 1 April. It is open to other public airport companies to apply in the future.