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Concorde

Volume 934: debated on Monday 27 June 1977

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on Concorde's landing rights at Kennedy Airport, New York.

We continue to challenge in the United States courts the Port of New York Authority's ban on Concorde.

Will the Secretary of State tell Mr. Brock Adams that his devious attempt to divert attention from New York by seeking to hold inquiries into the interest in Concorde in other cities in the United States will fool no one and is no more revelant or helpful than if the right hon. Gentleman were to suggest, for instance, that Pan American should divert half its flights to Heathrow to Newcastle upon Tyne? Will the right hon. Gentleman continue to press the point that, once the American Government have signed a treaty, either they have the competence to enforce it or they should not have signed it in the first place?

We have all heard a great deal from Mr. Brock Adams recently. Mr. Brock Adams will have an important rĂ´le in determining the future of Concorde at Washington. As for New York, the courts will decide and we are continuing with our case in the courts. We have every hope that they will decide in our favour. We have treaty rights in this matter, and those are preserved in the new agreement.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that even if Mr. Brock Adams' suggestions, or whatever they are, for other airports have no legal force or any other kind of force, if in due course Concorde is able to fly to other airports as well as New York that would be most welcome to us and to the right hon. Gentleman?

Certainly, but it must be absolutely clear that the next gateway in the United States to which we wish to operate Concorde is New York.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that while New York remains the stumbling block the project's future is being damaged? Can he say what plans the Government have for seeking overflying rights in other parts of the world so that the remaining seven Concordes that have not been sold may find purchasers?

We are continuing to press overflying rights in other parts of the world to enable us to establish routes. However, I cannot conceal from the House the fact that in other parts of the world we are told that access to New York is a consideration that will determine whether those overflying rights are granted. Therefore, this is of great importance to us. I am sure that the people in the United States Administration fully understand this. It is of very great importance to us to have access to New York.

If the United States continues its obstinate attitude with regard to flying rights to New York for Concorde, may I ask my right hon. Friend to consider conveying to his opposite number in the United States Government the point that that may well have some unfortunate effect on the flying rights of American airlines to London?

We have made our position over Concorde perfectly clear to the United States. I have never thought it right, in respect either of Concorde or of the negotiations which we have just concluded with the United States, to make threats. We want to establish our rights in respect of Concorde, just as we wish to establish our rights in relation to air services generally. We shall continue to press on the United States Government our entitlement in this respect.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any contingency plans for the way in which he will approach this problem in the event that the court actions do not produce landing rights for Concorde within a reasonable time?

We are, of course, in contact with our French partners in this enterprise. I do not want to lead the House into the belief that there is any dramatic step that we have in mind to take. What we are trying to do at the moment is to establish our rights under the law of the United States, as we understand it, to get Concorde into New York.