New Clause 3 - Obligation to operate an air transport service serving a specified route

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 13th March 2012.

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Photo of Pat Glass Pat Glass Labour, North West Durham 4:30 pm, 13th March 2012

Absolutely. The new clause would ensure that airlines that pulled out of airports at short notice, and so risked the future of small regional airports, risked losing their right to use Heathrow slots elsewhere. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South said, had the amendment been in place when bmi pulled out of its slots for flights between Heathrow and Durham Tees Valley airport, the CAA could have insisted that bmi was still under an obligation to fly that route. It might then not have pulled out, or certainly not without consultation.

When a big player pulls out of a small regional airport and uses its slots at Heathrow for other profitable routes, there is a devastating impact not only on small regional airports, but on the whole region, particularly socially deprived regions. It also reduces the efficiency of an airport such as Heathrow as an internal hub.

I have been told that only two regional airports now have slots into Heathrow: Newcastle and Manchester. Until we get High Speed 2, that will not be good for the regions. People who live in the regions have told me that they must fly to Charles de Gaulle, Madrid or Schiphol to fly on elsewhere. The arrangement works both ways, and it has an impact on Heathrow, as well as regional airports.