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British Airways

Volume 974: debated on Monday 26 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will specify the consultations that he undertook with the management of British Airways and the aviation trade unions, respectively, giving dates of any such meetings concerning the financing of British Airways prior to 20 July 1979, including the main purport of any such discussions;(2) if he will specify the consultations that he undertook with the management of British Airways and the aviation trade unions, respectively, giving dates of any such meetings, concerning his decision not to mobilise the Government's right as the majority shareholder in the proposed successor company to British Airways to appoint directors to the board of that company;(3) what representations he has received from the aviation trade unions concerning his plans for the financing of British Airways.

My right hon. Friend indicated to the House on Friday 20 July that no consultations with the trade unions had been held before that date but that he planned to meet them during the following week. The chairman of British Airways was informed before 20 July of the proposals my right hon. Friend had announced on that day.On 24 July, my right hon. Friend met representatives of the trade unions side of the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport (NJCCAT) and discussed the statement with them both in general and in relation to a number of detailed aspects about which they expressed particular concern. They did not raise the subject of the appointment of directors to the successor company. At further meetings on 11 September and 29 October, my right hon. Friend and I discussed other matters relating to the Civil Aviation Bill with the trade union side.As regards future CAA licensing policy, I wrote to the NJC after the meeting of 11 September to confirm my understanding of its views. In a reply dated 16 October, it said that my letter did not entirely reflect its views and that it would write again to express its collective position. I still await that further letter. On 29 October, the trade union representatives refused to discuss the financing of British Airways on the grounds that their main efforts were being directed towards opposing the Government's proposals. However, we made it clear that we were willing to hold further discussions after publication of the bill.