§ Mr. Trotter
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has now heard from the Civil Aviation Authority following his request to it to hold consultations with the airline industry, in order to ensure a proper framework for free and fair competition in British aviation; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
The Civil Aviation Authority's consultation paper on safeguards against monopolistic and anti-competitive behaviour was issued on 22 January. Consultees were originally given until 31 March to respond, but, in view of the complexity of the issues and the need to ensure that they are given the fullest consideration, individual requests for further time to submit a response have been granted. The authority expects that all submissions on this consultation, and on the parallel consultation on market entry, will have been received by the end of May.
§ Mr. Coombs
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the Government's policy on the encouragement of competition in the British airline industry and strengthening the role of other airlines as competitors to British Airways.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
The Government are committed to a sound and competitive multi-airline industry and to the promotion of fair competition in all markets, so long as the United Kingdom's interests are not prejudiced. This policy offers British airlines, with adequate resources, opportunities to provide competing services and thus to strengthen their position. It is also the aim of the policy that the United Kingdom civil aviation industry as a whole should continue to include airlines strong enough to compete aggressively against foreign carriers.
It is essential for the continued success of the Government's policy that there should be effective safeguards against anti-competitive behaviour. The Civil Aviation Authority, at our request, is reviewing the information available to it on airlines' activities and whether that information should be improved, in consultation with the air transport industry, its users and others. The authority is also consulting on the question of market entry.