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Volume 889: debated on Monday 24 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he can now make a statement about the start of Concorde services with British Airways.

As I said in reply to the hon. Member on 26th February—[Vol. 887, c. 196]—the question of the date on which British Airways and Air France should begin commercial services with Concorde will be a matter for discussion at tomorrow's meeting between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and the French Minister of Transport.

Will the Minister give me a categorical assurance that Concorde will operate on the same date with Air France and British Airways, that there will be no question of Air France operating it before British Airways does?

I would hope that that will be accomplished. I understand that British Airways has every intention of starting its services simultaneously with Air France.

May I urge my hon. Friend to impress upon British Airways the need to get Concorde into service at the earliest possible moment and not to allow this to be delayed by any problems concerning the North American route? If it is not feasible to start that route at the same time as Air France, will another route be considered?

British Airways is well aware of the need to start services simultaneously with Air France, as I have said. The routes are a matter for British Airways to decide and it will keep the Government closely in touch with its plans.

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will be more pressing in his discussions in this connection that he was in connection with Laker Airways?