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Concorde

Volume 938: debated on Monday 7 November 1977

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that Her Majesty's Government are now fully in possession of the United Kingdom's treaty rights, concerning Concorde landing rights in the United States of America.

This is a complex matter, but, with the start of tile New York service on 22nd November, British Airways will be operating Concordes on the two routes to the United States of America that they currently plan.

Now that the untruths and distortions of the anti-Concorde campaign in New York can be seen as such, does not the Minister agree that the arbitrary imposition by the American Government of even a 16-month trial is itself an interference with our treaty rights? Might this not be an opportune moment for setting aside the trial and allowing British Airways to operate the aircraft in accordance with our agreement with the American Government?

This is a very complex legal matter, and it would he quite wrong if we made a premature judgment on the situation. We need to consult very closely with our French partners in this matter before we make an announcement about the proposed noisemaking rules.

Is my hon. Friend happy that British Airways will be able to exercise their right to enter New York later this month, and is there any suggestion that there may yet be moves to stop Concorde going into New York?

I am delighted that British Airways will be making their inaugural flight on 22nd November. I know of no moves currently to thwart that very desirable objective.

Since Concorde has been operating at a loss, should we not be grateful to the American Government for making a contribution towards the British balance of payments?

In fairness, the right hon. Gentleman ought to reserve his judgment until Concorde has had a full period in which to operate into the most fruitful of the routes, which is, of course, between London and New York.

Will my hon. Friend confirm or deny reports that, despite the legal breakthrough that has now taken place, British Airways will not be able to operate Concorde into New York as effectively as Air France because of the insufficient training of pilots?

As the House will know, there were difficulties at the commencement of the training programme. These are being overcome, and it is hoped that British Airways wi11 be able to operate the full service early in the new year.