Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400-402)|
18 JANUARY 2006
Q400 Clive Efford: Just to put a
specific point: why should the airline industry subsidise General
Aviation in terms of safety standards? In particular, why should
the recreation sector of aviation be subsidised in that way?
Mr Robinson: Could I answer that
and say the General Aviation community and those people who seek
flying careers actually take a huge subsidy into the airline with
them, somewhere between £50,000 and £100,000. The cost
of becoming a professional pilot today, if that is your desire,
unless you come from a very wealthy background or parents who
are prepared to finance your training through remortgaging their
house, is extremely difficult for individuals from relatively
less well-off means to pursue a career as a professional pilot.
Whether it is right or not for there to be a cross-subsidy, the
fact of the matter is flight training organisations form the nurseries
for the airline world ultimately. Whether British Airways recruits
pilots directly or not is not the issue. The Regional Airline
Association has said on numerous occasions, Please do not pull
General Aviation, they supply our pilots". There is a kind
of pecking order here. People go to a regional airline and they
gain experience with a regional airline and then move up into
the main air carriers. I would illustrate General Aviation as
being like a house of cards with GA at the bottom and if you start
to pull around at the bottom ultimately the whole lot will tumble
down. Our members do pay charges and they pay for everything that
the CAA has a charge for. If there is an element of cross-subsidy
it is not totally clear to us where that cross-subsidy actually
Mr Draper: There is another point
here relative to charges in particular in that we do not have
a level playing field. Commercial airline traffic saves itself
£800 million a year in fuel duty, £2 billion a year
in VAT, whereas General Aviation, private individuals using it
for recreational, social and some business as well, pays fuel
duty and VAT and has no means of recouping it. Therefore, the
field cannot be regarded as level and, furthermore, as I said
earlier, we are being kept out of more and more controlled airspace
to the benefit of the airlines. The great majority of the passengers,
your constituents, are going on holiday and the like, great, that
is absolutely what we want them to do, is it not, but part of
the cost of going on holiday has to be to pay proper airfares
and the like. Maybe that needs to be looked at in relation to
the actual total charging scene across CAA charges.
Mr Robinson: Can I come back to
your point about the review. The Cabinet Office Better Regulation
Unit recently informed us that the Civil Aviation Authority should
have conducted Regulatory Impact Assessment, a small business
test, competitive analysis in relation to the recent increase
in their charges because the increases that they have put forward
have gone outside the known formula.
Q401 Chairman: Would you be kind
enough to give us a copy of that correspondence?
Mr Robinson: I am currently awaiting
a letter from the Cabinet Office at the moment.
Q402 Clive Efford: Has the CAA's
new cost structure had any impact on safety regulation in the
way that General Aviation practices it? Is there a knock-on effect?
Mr Robinson: Ultimately, private
individuals fund their flying from their taxed income and they
will have a proportion of the income available for flying. The
higher charges, the fewer the hours they can fund. The best safety
device on any aircraft is a well-trained pilot and safety is enhanced
by having pilots flying, not just by pure regulation.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been very
helpful and really very interesting indeed. Thank you very much
for your evidence.