Stansted Airport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 28th April 1987.

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Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland 10:45 pm, 28th April 1987

I was just echoing a view that has been expressed in a number of places, that it is important for the development of the airport that at least one of our airlines—Air UK is not an insignificant one; it provides a very valuable service in many parts of the United Kingdom—should have an important part at Stansted. It is a concern that has been expressed.

Dan-Air was very successful in the campaign that it mounted 12 months or more ago to maintain its service from Heathrow, because it felt that its services from other parts of the country—from Inverness airport, for the business and commercial interests of the highlands and islands of Scotland — should form the link with Heathrow and the important function of interlining that Heathrow provides. It would be a very serious loss if, through the auspices of the Civil Aviation Authority, some of these services were routed to other airports and that valuable interlining service was lost.

Dan-Air rightly won the argument. If that is a consideration, one may find that domestic services are not a common feature at Stansted and that, its growth area might be in charter traffic, with a much higher throughput of passengers. With 78,000 air traffic movements, if the number of passengers per movement was higher, would we then reach the situation where the Government were overshooting the current cut-off point of 7 million to 8 million passengers, with no further need to come back for an increase?

We do not know the answers to those questions, because there are so may variables, but, bearing in mind the importance attached to the procedure within the 1986 Act to give Parliament some control, we would like to hear more from the Minister. Without that, one could defeat one object of that Act — an object to which many speakers in the debate have subscribed—which was that Parliament should have some further control, because of the wider implications for other airports in the United Kingdom. If the Minister feels that there is a potential for the passenger ceiling to be significantly exceeded within 78,000 movements, that is something that hon. Members would, rightly, wish to know about, because it would have longer-term consequences for influence of the House on future airports policy.