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Priority Allocations (Continent)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to what extent passages by air to the Continent are made available to those who wish to go on business journeys of importance to the export trade of this country compared with tourists who go there to spend a holiday, thereby absorbing foreign exchange without any corresponding contribution.

Of the 19 scheduled services at present operated between this country and the Continent only six are now subject to priority control. On the question of the method of priority allocations on those services, I refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Hallam (Mr Jennings) on 14th May last.

Is my hon. Friend not aware that of first importance to this country at the present time is the export trade and not the export of tourists; and will he try to persuade his noble Friend to get the Corporations to introduce some system of priority, similar to that in force under the Ministry of Transport in connection with sea passages?

My noble Friend and I are the servants of this House, and we desire to express the feeling of this House that, as quickly as possible, all priorities on air routes should be given up. That has been the desire of the House, and it has also been the policy of my noble Friend. I agree that, as soon as all priority control is given up, the person who books a passage, irrespective of the value or purpose of his travelling, takes a seat, and sometimes business people are hindered by this practice.

Can the hon. Gentleman say, where priorities still continue, how much notice must be given to the aircraft companies that a priority seat is to be abandoned?

A priority seat abandoned by the individual who has been given priority?

He is supposed to give up the seat as soon as he knows that he will not be taking it. The same rule applies as to normal commercial passengers. If he gives it up in a period of time which enables a rebooking to be made, he is relieved of the cost of the seat. If he is unable to resell, a percentage charge is made for the seat, according to the period that has elapsed before his giving it up.