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Laker Airways (Skytrain Service)

Volume 884: debated on Monday 13 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he now expects permission to be given for the inception of the Laker Airways Skytrain service to the United States of America.

I cannot anticipate the outcome of the review of Laker Airways' Skytrain licence which the Civil Aviation Authority has undertaken.

Setting aside the delay that is now being caused by British Airways' attempt to enforce the IATA cartel on the North Atlantic, does not the hon. Gentleman agree that the United States Government have been in breach of the Bermuda Agreement for about two years by refusing to allow services to operate? In the event that the CAA does approve it, will the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government will take firm action—if necessary, retaliatory action—against the Americans until they give permission?

The hon. Gentleman has, somewhat characteristically, distorted the position of British Airways, but in respect of delay on the part of the United States administration we have on a number of occasions made both formal and informal representations. The situation is now in the hands of the CAA and it would be quite improper for me, having regard always to the fact that my right hon. Friend may be the final arbiter of this matter under the appeals procedure—if an appeal is eventually launched—to make any comment along the line suggested by the hon. Gentleman.

Can my hon. Friend tell the House of any possible justification for allowing this Johnny-come-lately airline to cream off this part of the market at the expense of British Airways?

I must resist any temptation I may have to be drawn into this argument, having regard to the procedures now being invoked.