asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he will make a statement on the circumstances under which Consul aircraft G-AIOX of Airspan. Travel Limited has been held by the Italian authorities at Milan since 23rd March.
I understand that the Italian authorities detained the aircraft on the 23rd March because the company failed to obtain the prior permission for the flight that is required, under the Italian regulations, for all commercial non-schedule flights. They were, no doubt, influenced by the fact that this was the second time within a month that the aircraft had been flown to Italy without such permission. His Majesty's Embassy in Rome have been in touch with the Italian authorities but have been informed that the aircraft could not be released for the time being. It appears that it is being held pending an investigation into the documents covering the cargo. There appears to be a conflict of evidence about the cargo manifests and a further report is being asked for.
Is it normal to hold the aircraft itself for such a long period, involving a great loss to the company, when there is some question as regards the manifests?
Yes, Sir. If it is alleged that the aircraft owner or the pilot has infringed the regulations of the country, it is normal practice to hold the aircraft until satisfaction has been obtained.
If it turns out that a mistake has been made in this case in which evidence is conflicting, will the Minister look into the possibility of compensation being paid to this airline company?
That is an entirely different question.