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British Airways (Iberian Flights)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has had from British Airways as to their departures for the Iberian peninsula from Gatwick airport.

British Airways have expressed a wish to operate some of these services from Heathrow and will be making detailed proposals which I shall then consider.

Is it correct that the two principal competitors of British Airways in respect of flights to the Iberian peninsula have refused to move their operations to Gatwick? Is it right that British Airways, in consequence, are losing substantial sums of money? Is it wise to leave that situation unchanged?

The two other airlines have been extremely reluctant to move to Gatwick. I am very keen that British Airways should return to profitability as soon as possible. The recently announced recovery plan is a good start, but I also have to consider the longer term implications for airports policy. As my hon. Friend knows, Heathrow is already operating very close to capacity.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the announcement concerning terminal 2 at Gatwick, reported on the tapes this morning, is overdue in the sense that the decision has only been postponed? Does he agree that there is need for urgent resolution of the problem whether terminal 2 at Gatwick should be built? Can he offer some encouragement in the matter?

We sent out at the end of last week letters that should have been received today informing certain parties to the previous inquiry of new air traffic forecasts. We shall await replies to those letters and then take those replies into consideration before coming to any final decision. That will be done with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.