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Air Mails

Volume 414: debated on Thursday 18 October 1945

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asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that air-mail communications between the United Kingdom and His Majesty's Forces in East Africa take as much as 20 days to arrive; and what steps are being taken to speed up this service.

I regret that there has been some delay in the arrival in East Africa of air mails containing correspondence for the Forces. Steps have been taken to effect an improvement, and I am informed that the mails are now arriving regularly and in good time.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that, according to a document entitled "Air Mails," dated September, 1945, published by his Department, the rates for overseas air mail have been raised from, approximately, one-half the cost of carriage to, approximately, three times such cost; and that the rates now charged represent, in many cases, an increase of 1,000 per cent. over those charged in 1938–39; and will he inform the House how such increases affect the Empire Air-Mail Scheme.

All letters and postcards for Empire countries, and for Egypt, on the air routes to South Africa, India and Australia were carried by air under the Empire Air Mail scheme at the rates of 1½d. a half-ounce for letters and 1d. for postcards, these rates being related to the amount of the Post Office contribution to the costs of the scheme. It was necessary, owing to the heavy demand on aircraft capacity created by the war, to revert to the principle of an air surcharge, and the present rates of 1s. 3d. a half-ounce for letters, 6d. for air letters and 7d. for postcards were fixed, not in relation to costs of air conveyance, but in order to keep the mail loads within the limited amount of capacity which could be made available for mail transport. The effect of the change has been to increase the Post Office contribution to the costs of maintaining the Empire air services under war conditions.