Okay, well, those are the figures that have been provided by those in the industry. The three flying training schools that have gone under produced many hundreds of pilots a year. That represented a substantial part of the capacity within the United Kingdom. Therefore, I am afraid that this is not a localised problem, involving just a few individual schools. There are serious fears for the sustainability of many of the surviving large schools in particular.
I will not rerun all of the issues that we came up with earlier, but there are serious problems that I hope we will be able to air in more detail when we meet the Minister about the immediate problem of the hundreds of students who find themselves without a course, without the funds to find an alternative course, and without an awful lot from the CAA. I am afraid that that has been the experience, hence the request for the CAA to step up and step in rather more proactively than it has. We need an acknowledgment that students who pay fees up front are vulnerable to the flying schools going out of business, and are without the protections we take for granted when we buy goods and services or embark on educational courses elsewhere. Again, I take issue with the Minister’s challenging that this is some form of education. The clue is in the title: these are flying schools, which are training people, in the air rather than on the ground, to provide a vital public service on which this country relies.
It is not just the training schools and their immediate employees that will be suffering. It is the local economies—the economies of smaller regional airports that rely on the flying training schools for a great deal of their revenue, from touchdown fees or the purchase of kerosene. That is often the most profitable part of the business of those small airports and crucial to their survival, not least my own in Shoreham.
Contrary to what the Minister says, the implications go beyond just the three individual cases of flying training schools that have gone under in the last 10 months. I am grateful that we have had this airing of an issue that has not had a great deal of publicity but which has a great many implications, well beyond the constituencies represented today and the three specific training schools I have mentioned. I hope we can take those points further when we meet the noble Baroness, which I think is next week. I will be happy if any colleagues here wish to join me in that delegation along with BALPA. I am grateful for the time in the Chamber.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House
has considered flying schools.