Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1987: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1987, was initiated in Seanad Éireann on 1 October 1987 for the purpose of facilitating its early consideration by both Houses of the Oireachtas and, hopefully, enactment into law before the end of this year.

The Bill gives a clear indication of public policy to promote the greatest possible security and safety of civil aviation in the country and aims to provide a firm legal base for implementing that policy. The Bill is the outcome of a thorough review of the Air Navigation and Transport Acts, 1936 to 1986 in the light of experience both here and abroad, and it makes a wide range of robust — but nevertheless necessary — new provisions designed to safeguard Irish civil aviation in the years ahead. Ireland's airspace and airports are as secure and safe as the best in the world and, with the enactment and full implementation of the Bill they should remain so.

There is, of course, no room for complacency where the security or safety of civil aviation is concerned. I can, therefore, assure the House that the Minister for Tourism and Transport and I will vigorously pursue the attainment of even higher standards wherever possible — and take prompt action where proper standards are not being met — and that, notwithstanding the severe difficulties facing the Exchequer in the foreseeable future, adequate financial resources will continue to be made available for the updating and re-equipment of air navigation facilities in the country on an ongoing basis.

As Senators are aware, Irish civil aviation has developed enormously over the past decade, with ever-increasing numbers of persons travelling into and out of the country by air, with the entry of new air carriers and with the increasing variety in the range of air services to and from the country. For example, only three years ago, some four million air passengers passed through Irish airports. It is expected that in 1987 the figure will be 5 million. Of these some three and a half million will pass through Dublin Airport alone. Those are record figures, no doubt boosted by the Government'sIreland in 87 tourism programme which reduced access costs for tourists. I expect these records to be greatly exceeded as a result of the Government's five year development programme for tourism which is now in preparation. The completion of the European Communities internal market in air transport in 1992 should further increase the volume and range of air services between Ireland and other countries and, we hope, also open up worthwhile new business opportunities abroad for Irish airlines.

I must say I was disappointed at the failure of the EC Transport Council to agree, in June last, the first steps towards this 1992 deadline. I am hopeful that the obstacles to progress, the principal one being the Gibraltar question, can be removed by the end of the year if these measures are formally adopted at the forthcoming EC Transport Council in December. The liberalisation which we are all hoping for could make a vital impact on the 1988 tourist season.

We obviously need to maximise the benefit to Ireland from all of these developments and we must, therefore, continue to be resolute in safeguarding the interests of air travellers in Irish airspace and on Irish aircraft wherever they may be. Our civil aviation law must be fully capable of serving those objectives. The Bill is specifically designed to achieve that.

The Bill, therefore, substantially updates and strengthens the existing Air Navigation and Transport Acts, 1936 to 1986. While a comprehensive explanatory and financial memorandum was published with the Bill, it might be helpful to Senators' consideration of the Bill if I briefly outline its main provisions in 12 separate categories. I should mention that copies of both documents were supplied, on publication, to all Irish airport and aircraft operators, none of whom has made representations on the Bill.

Briefly, the Bill obliges aerodrome operators and all others doing business at aerodromes to comply with security and safety requirements and gives the Minister for Tourism and Transport specific power to specify and enforce security and safety requirements at aerodromes and in relation to aircraft, sections 5 to 9 and 12 to 16.

The Bill prohibits — and provides severe penalties for — activities which could endanger or disrupt aviation: having certain dangerous articles in aerodromes, aircraft or air navigation installations without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, sections 11 and 17; giving of any false alarm which interferes with the operation of any aerodrome, aircraft, or air navigation installation in the State, section 41; impersonation of "authorised officers" or "authorised persons" appointed to perform a variety of inspectoral and other duties under the Air Navigation and Transport Acts, secetion 40.

The Bill empowers the Minister for Tourism and Transport to prohibit or restrict dumping near aerodromes, so as to obviate danger, etc., to aviation from flocks of birds, section 21.

The Bill extends the scope of aerodrome by-laws to deal with illegal car parking by providing for the wheel-clamping or removal, etc., of the illegally parked vehicles, section 24; and provides extensive, but necessary, powers of search, etc. of persons and vehicles on aerodromes, to prevent crime etc., section 31; and enables the Minister for Tourism and Transport to make by-laws for all civil aerodromes and not only for Cork, Dublin and Shannon Airports, as at present, section 25.

The Bill substantially increases maximum penalties for all offences under the Air Navigation and Transport Acts to deter would-be offenders. It is proposed to raise these fines from £5-£1,000 to £1,000-£5,000, with or without a term of imprisonment as the court may deem appropriate in the cirsumstances. Details of these are given in pages 7 and 8 of the explanatory and financial memorandum to the Bill.

The Bill safeguards the interests of all persons using aerodromes who suffer injury, etc. by requiring all aerodromes to be insured against all public liabilities while in operation or prohibiting the operation of aerodromes if not so insured, section 10.

The Bill safeguards Exchequer investment in aerodromes against breach of conditions subject to which assistance was given, section 28. It also secures payment of aerodrome etc. charges due, including cost of dealing with abandoned aircraft, section 30.

The Bill enables the Minister for Tourism and Transport to decide earlier, within 14 days or less, on airline tariff proposals than present law allows, 21 days wait, section 47.

The Bill allows fees to be charged for Ministerial authorisation of air services by order, section 46, so as to cover administration costs. Fees are already chargeable for Ministerial authorisation of air services otherwise than by order. A total of £10,000 is expected to be recouped for such costs in 1988.

The Bill enables the Minister for Tourism and Transport to control use etc., of aerodromes, aircraft etc. for dealing with national or other emergencies, section 20.

The Bill enables the State to ratify a number of protocols to International Civil Aviation Conventions, Parts III and IV of the Bill. I shall return to these later.

Civil aviation needs concerted action between States for its growth and more so for its protection against terrorism which, unfortunately, has assumed an international character. The formulation and development of international civil aviation security policy and practice has been a major preoccupation both of individual states and of the various international civil aviation organisations, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the European Civil Aviation Conference. Ireland, through my Department, participates fully in the activities of these organisations and through them has had an input into the development of current international standards and practices which, I need hardly add, are implemented to the fullest degree at our own airports.

In discharging our responsibilities for the security of civil aviation in the State the Minister and I have available to us the valuable advice and assistance of the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, who operate under our aegis. The committee is chaired by a senior official of my Department and comprises also other representatives of my Department and representatives of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Defence, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, Aer Lingus, Aer Rianta and the Irish Airline Pilots Association.

The committee advise the Government and the civil aviation industry on aviation security policy. They co-ordinate the various interests involved and are responsible for ensuring that internationally agreed and accepted security measures are implemented at all airports in the State. These measures, and their application at each airport are subjected to ongoing review and assessment by the committee whose decisions and recommendations are implemented through my Department. The committee are also responsible for ensuring that suitable machinery is in place to facilitate prompt decision-making and action in the event of a hijacking or other aviation related terrorist activity requiring decision at Government level.

The committee meet regularly and have been particularly effective in strengthening security measures at all airports in the country and ensure that procedures and practices conform to the highest standards of international practice. The National Civil Aviation Security Committee fully endorse the provisions of the Bill to promote the greatest possible security and safety of civil aviation in the country.

In relation to offences against civil aviation generally, Senators may be aware that international law in this regard is governed by the Conventions of the Hague, Tokyo and Montreal which provide a régime of prosecution or extradition for the perpetration of acts of violence against international civil aviation. Ireland is a party to these conventions — following enactment of the necessary legislation in 1973 and 1975 — and has participated actively in the preparation, within the forum of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, of a new international legal instrument which will extend the system of extradition or prosecution under the existing conventions to cover unlawful acts of violence at airports serving international civil aviation. This new instrument is expected to be approved by a diplomatic conference of states in early 1988 and we hope to bring forward the necessary legislation for its early ratification thereafter.

International civil aviation also has an important humanitarian and a commercial dimension for which the Bill makes provision. Following the shooting down by USSR military aircraft of a Korean Airlines 747 in USSR airspace on 1 September 1983, an Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation was convened at Montreal in 1984, at which a protocol to amend the convention was adopted. That protocol, which has been fully supported by Ireland, obliges contracting states to the convention to refrain from the use of weapons against civil aviation in flight but does not prejudice the right of states to shoot down aircraft when acting legitimately in self-defence. Early ratification by Ireland is, therefore, most desirable in order to secure sufficient ratifications — 102 — to bring it into force at an early date. New legislation is required to enable Ireland to ratify the protocol and sections 36 to 38 of the Bill provide accordingly. So far, over 30 states — including seven EC states — have ratified that protocol. The seven EC states are Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain.

The commercial dimension of international civil aviation is specifically catered for by the 1929 Warsaw Convention, as developed over the years, which provides a standardised international code to govern the documents of carriage, and the liability of carriers for loss or damage in the carriage by air of persons and their baggage and cargo. Ireland and over 100 other states are party to the convention. The Warsaw Convention was amended by The Hague Protocol in 1955, notably to increase from about £7,500 to about £15,000 the limit — expressed in Poincaré Gold Francs — on a carrier's liability for death or injury to a passenger. The Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1959, gave effect in Irish law to The Hague Protocol.

Growing dissatisfaction with the liability limits of the Warsaw Convention — as expressed in the outdated Poincaré Gold Francs — developed in the following decade and culminated in the drawing up of four protocols to the convention in Montreal in 1975. The main purpose of the protocols was to substitute special drawing rights of the international Monetary Fund for Poincaré Gold Francs in the Warsaw Convention, The Hague Protocol, and in the 1971 Guatemala City Protocol. Each of the 1975 protocols must be ratified by 30 states before it can come into force.

The 1971 Guatemala City Protocol provided for an increase in that liability limit to about £90,000 — with provision for increases of about £10,000 in the fifth and tenth years after it comes into force — and allowed states to establish a supplementary fund to provide extra compensation if they wished to do so. This protocol has not yet come into force and, as worded, could only do so when it had been ratified by at least 30 states on the condition that the total international scheduled air traffic of the airlines of five states which have ratified it represents at least 40 per cent of the total international scheduled air traffic of the airlines of the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. In effect, this meant that ratification by the United States of America would ordinarily be required to bring the protocol into force. However, the 1975 Montreal Protocol No. 3 expressly provided that its own ratification by a state would automatically mean ratification of the 1971 Guatemala City Protocol.

I understand that the US Administration is now moving towards seeking the approval of the US Senate for the four 1975 Montreal Protocols. Montreal Protocol No. 1 substitutes special drawing rights for Poincaré Gold Francs in the original Warsaw Convention while Montreal Protocol No. 2 makes a similar substitution in the Warsaw Convention as amended by The Hague Protocol. Twenty states — including seven EC states, namely, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK — have already ratified both Montreal Protocols Nos. 1 and 2.

Montreal Protocol No. 3 substitutes special drawing rights for Poincaré Gold Francs in the Warsaw Convention as amended by both The Hague and Guatemala City Protocols. Eight states — including four EC states, namely, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK — have already ratified Montreal Protocol No. 3.

Montreal Protocol No. 4 relates mainly to the updating of the system for recording carriage of cargo by providing an option for the use of "means" other than an air waybill, prescribed in the convention as it stands, as a record of the carriage of cargo — if the consignor agrees — to take account of the growing computerisation of the business of carriers and consignors of cargo. The protocol also provides for the substitution of the special drawing rights to express the liability limits for cargo and operates a strict liability system for cargo, with a certain limited number of specified defences open to the carrier. The defences are: (a) inherent defect, quality or vice of the cargo; (b) defective packaging of the cargo performed by a person other than the carrier or his servants or agents; (c) an act of war or an armed conflict; and (d) an act of public authority carried out in connection with the entry, exit or transit of the cargo. Eleven states — including five EC states, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK — have ratified the Montreal Protocol No. 4.

Sitting suspended at 11.10 a.m. and resumed at 11.25 a.m.

I am reminded of a famous statement made in County Clare by a former President. Several years after being a guest somewhere else he came back and said: "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted." I was not rudely interrupted but nevertheless we were interrupted somewhat. I was speaking about the various protocols and conventions.

The text of the four 1975 Montreal Protocols is set out in the First Schedule to the Bill and the text of the 1971 Guatemala City Protocol — to which Protocol No. 3 relates — has been deposited in the Oireachtas Library.

We in Ireland recognise that there may be outdated elements in the Warsaw Convention but we consider that the basic convention should be upheld and, where possible, improved. The purpose of the convention is to provide stability in civil air transport worldwide. The advantages of the systems are the certainty of the liability limits for air transport in the 100 world States. The carriers have definite knowledge as to their insurance requirements, and the passengers and persons sending goods by air have knowledge of the liability limits. Both passengers and senders of goods are also assured of a quicker settlement of claims than by settling through litigation.

The possibility of getting 100 States to draw up and adhere to a new convention on the same subject is very remote. Accordingly, Ireland, in conjunction with most other European States, is committed in principle to upholding and developing the Warsaw Convention.

Ireland has given a commitment in aviation related international fora that it would initiate steps as soon as possible to ratify the Montreal Protocols. There had been a "wait and see" attitude to the ratification process for several years throughout Europe in anticipation of ratification by the US. However, as the efforts to ratify by the US Administration did not materialise most of European States decided that they would commit themselves to ratification. They hoped that, with the assistance of some other world States apart from the US, it would be possible to reach the required 30 ratifications and, accordingly, give effect to the Montreal Protocols. Most of the European States are now preparing or have prepared the necessary legislation for ratification. It is essential that Ireland keeps in step. Part III of the Bill provides accordingly.

It should be pointed out that the limit of liability for death or injury to a passenger which all Irish air carriers are required to apply in practice is about £90,000, the same basic limit as is provided in Montreal Protocol No. 3. However, there is an obvious need for legislation to copperfasten that limit for all concerned.

Thus, enactment of the Bill will enable the State to meet its international obligations by ratifying the protocols in question to a number of International Civil Aviation Conventions designed to foster civil aviation throughout the world and, at the same time, safeguard — and hopefully enhance — the security and safety of civil aviation in the State. For those reasons, I commend the Bill to the House.

I welcome Deputy Lyons, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Transport, my county council colleague, to the House. Secondly, I welcome this Bill. As the Minister stated the Bill is the result of long deliberations initiated by the previous Minister Deputy Mitchell. The Fine Gael Party will support it.

Obviously it is a very technical Bill dealing with the safety aspect of aerodromes etc., but at the same time it is imperative to realise that it affects every passenger travelling on the world airlines. In recent times there has been a vast increase in the numbers of people travelling. The Minister said the number passing through Irish airports has increased from some four million three years ago to a projected figure of over five million in 1987. This is an indication of the importance of this legislation. It is vital to ensure that the highest safety standards operate both on and off aircraft and in particular in the vicinity of aerodromes. Accordingly it is necessary to support the measures put before us this morning.

When air transport was developing at a serious level 20 and 30 years ago they did not have the problems we have of international terrorism and international hijacking etc. which have increased out of all proportion in recent years. Accordingly it is vitally important that every possible measure is taken to ensure that these problems are kept at a minimum level. Therefore, I welcome all sections of the Bill dealing with this matter to ensure that every effort will be made to have the maximum security level at aerodromes.

I will now deal specifically with some of the Minister's comments this morning. He stated it was necessary to ensure that the Irish authorities participate fully with international authorities in ensuring the maximum safety levels for passengers and for aircraft. I fully agree with this. He further stated that civil aviation needs concerted action between States for its growth. It is very important that we continue our involvement with the International Civil Aviation Authority and the European Civil Aviation Conference. I believe that good work has come about as a result of our involvement with those two groups. The Minister mentioned that he consults with the National Civil Aviation Security Committee which comprises representatives of the Departments of Tourism and Transport, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defence, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, Aer Lingus, Aer Rianta and the Irish Airline Pilots' Association. Obviously, we must ensure that there is a consensus before any of the measures in the Bill are implemented. I am sure that the bodies referred to are fully supportive of the legislation brought forward by the Minister.

None of us doubts that Irish safety levels are up to the highest international standards. Despite that, we must ensure that these standards not only remain at their present high level but improve if at all possible. From time to time airline passengers are slightly turned off by the implementation of some of the safety measures. In fact, I was listening to a radio programme yesterday which gave the results of an international survey of air travellers and the main points made by those who frequently use the airlines concerned lack of comfort and an overemphasis on safety and on security. While I can see their view point we must ensure that security measures continue to be implemented. It would take only one major accident or mistake to have everybody crying out about lack of security and the need to increase it. We are on the right road in proposing that the security measures be tightened and that is the line we must continue on.

The Minister referred to the important humanitarian and commercial dimension for which the Bill makes provision. That is also very important. The Warsaw Convention adopted in 1929 governs the liability of carriers. Although the convention was admittedly updated since then, the limits on a carriers liability would certainly not be sufficient to deal with what can occur today. The liability increased from £7,500 to about £15,000 but I do not think it would be sufficient to meet today's demands.

At the end of his speech the Minister referred to the fact that the liability limit for death or injury to a passenger on all Irish air carriers is presently about £90,000 which is in agreement with the 1971 Guatemala City Protocol. He stated that there was an obvious need for legislation to copperfasten this £90,000 limit and I certainly agree with him. That is why the passage of this Bill is very important.

Mention was made of the response of the aviation authorities to the shooting down of the Korean airline in 1983. They adopted the Montreal Protocol which obliges contracting states to the convention to refrain from using weapons against civil aviation in flight but does not prejudice the right of the State to shoot down aircraft when acting legitimately in self defence. This is very important but you wonder from time to time how seriously do the more authoritarian states take a Protocol. It would be very satisfactory if there were more power to ensure that such action could not be repeated. Unfortunately, I feel we will hear more about such incidents in the years ahead. In dealing with countries where the values and respect for democratic systems are not very high, it is only to be expected that we will run into more problems similar to those which we meet in 1983. However, there are no measures we can take to ensure that tragedies like this will not occur again. Perhaps the Montreal Protocol of 1984 will, at least, ensure that should a similar dreadful happening occur we will be able to say it was in absolute contradiction of an international law and act accordingly.

Section 24 deals with unlawful parking at our national airports. It is important to ensure that the authorities at those airports are in full control of the situation on the ground and have full knowledge of all parking within the vicinity thereof. It is proposed to extend the powers presently operating in the State aerodromes to the non-State aerodromes. The three major State aerodromes are at Cork, Dublin and Shannon. There has been an increase in the number of minor aerodromes in operation within the State. Therefore it is important to ensure that the powers to deal with difficulties are extended to the non-State aerodromes.

Section 10 deals with the insurance aspect of the aerodromes. This is very important because of the numbers passing through the aerodromes on an annual basis. It is vital to insist that proper insurance liability exists in those circumstances.

The Minister said Ireland was committed to upholding and developing the Warsaw Convention. The development of the Warsaw Convention is the most important aspect of that statement because undoubtedly the original 1929 convention does not go far enough. The development of this convention will go hand in hand with the ratification of the Montreal Protocol. As most European states are preparing to have these protocols implemented, it is necessary for us to do so and obviously I support that fully. I hope that as a result air transport will become safe not just on a technical level but also safe against the scourge of terrorism in the air which unfortunately has increased to levels unknown in previous years.

I hope the enactment of this Bill will show the European Communities that we in Ireland are playing our part fully in trying to ensure that international air transport is as safe as possible. I hope the countries which have not as yet initiated legislation to ensure the passing of the Montreal Protocol will take cognisance of the fact that countries such as Ireland are beginning to do so. The full implementation of the Montreal Protocol by the majority of European states will help to ensure that our air travellers will be more secure in the years ahead.

I welcome the Bill. The previous speaker covered many of the basic points and there is no point in going over them again as we have a great deal of legislation to get through today.

I full agree with the various points the Minister raised in the Bill. The 1929 convention is a long way back. I agree with the Minister that the Irish airlines and Irish airports have the best standards in the world. We all know the great reputation of Aer Lingus, our national airline. They are the envy of many airlines all over the world. Aer Lingus have enhanced the reputation not alone of airlines and airports but of Ireland itself. It was very fitting for the Minister to open his remarks referring to the safety of our Irish airports and airlines.

It is interesting to note the enormous volume of air passengers that passes through our airports. An increase of 25 per cent in traffic over the past three years in recessionary times is, indeed, a magnificent pointer to the potential for the future of our airlines and airports. We have a population of three million people. The increase in traffic from four million passengers three years ago to five million passengers this year or next year is a fantastic achievement especially when one considers that Manchester airport, probably the greatest holiday airport in the UK, had seven and a half million passengers. This speaks very favourably for the numbers who will use the airports in future.

A basic plank of the Government's strategy is that tourism is one of the major areas where we can offer a service to the rest of the world, and be better at it than most. The Irish have a great name all over the world and have made great ambassadors when given the opportunity. They went to the top of their fields in many different categories. It is from that very base that our airports will play a magnificent part in the future because, as the song says, "those who go out can also come back". They go out and return by air. The legislation, although brief, is extremely important in various different ways. I welcome it and hope it has a fairly quick passage through the House this morning.

Section 21 is designed to eliminate the severe danger and disruption to air navigation caused by flocks of birds going to dumps etc. No dumps should be sited within the vicinity of an aerodrome. Birds congregate at dumps and this is extremely dangerous to aircraft. At what distance from an airport does the Minister propose to site a dump? Is it a mile and half, two miles or three miles? Aircraft are very large nowadays. Knock airport has brought home to many people the planning requirements of airports for landing a Boeing 747 and all the various aircraft that are required to bring passengers in and out of airports. A two mile radius at least would be needed particularly in an airport taking in big aircraft like the 747s — Shannon, Dublin or Cork.

Now that we have a fourth airport — and I see a great future for it — I would like to ask the Minister is it envisaged that Connaught Regional Airport will be included in this Bill in any way. Is there a difference between State-owned airports and commercial airports? Because they all take passengers in and out of their airspace, it is important to be safe at all airports. There was one bad air crash because birds flew into the engines of an aircraft in the past five years.

Section 24 deals with the unlawful parking of vehicles at airports and refers to Dublin, Cork and Shannon. I would like to know why Knock is not included in that. If it could be included it should be, because it is a developing airport and it is an airport that will play a major part in the future for the west of Ireland. The greatest tourist attraction in the world is religion. Knock is important to the people of Ireland, and hopefully to the people of America, Europe and all over the world. In the future it will become as important as Lourdes is. When you consider Lourdes with over 560 hotels and Fatima with terrific pilgrimage flights and their great importance to the economy of Portugal, Knock will have a lot to offer from the use of the airport for pilgrimages. It has a massive repeat business and it will be expanding and expanding all the time. Regarding the car parking facilities and the car parking undertakings that have to be given, unlawful parking is an unacceptable source of danger for persons using aerodromes and disrupts the proper functioning of the aerodromes. We know the dangers there are in car parking and we know the problems there are in car parking in the cities. We know how difficult it is to man these car parks and to make them safe from all sorts of vandals even though there is supposed to be terrific security and restrictions all over the place.

In relation to the fines of £5 to £1,000, we need to look at that again because £1,000 is totally inadequate for some of the breaches that I visualise under this section. Breach of ministerial order, £200: is that to be increased to £1,000 or to £50,000? I am at sea. The Minister said fines will be increased from £5 to £1,000 and then from £1,000 to £50,000. For unlawfully flying an aircraft without insurance a fine of £1,000 is totally unacceptable, or even a fine of £50,000. No one can do a more dangerous thing than fly an aircraft without insurance especially if there were five passengers on it. It is a small amount when you see later in the Bill £90,000 as the limit for a passenger carried on an aircraft. You know how far £90,000 would go if a person had a mortgage on his house, an overdraft for his car and three or four in family. I am appalled to learn that £90,000 is the cover, because we see justifiable higher insurance claims. For someone to fly an aircraft unlawfully and with six passengers and to have a penalty of only £50,000 is appalling.

We have references to a breach of ministerial regulations about certificate of insurance, obstruction of authorised officers requiring entry on land, and dangerous flying of aircraft. Someone could take to the air without having approval from the tower. Is there a fine of only £1,000 for that, or is there a fine of £50,000 which would be more suitable? It goes on to list unlawful interference, obstruction etc. in regard to apparatus in the facility of the airport. That is a very important section. We would like the Minister to expand on it. The rest of the Bill deals with international protocol which has to be welcomed. It is a magnificent achievement if 100 countries can get together and agree on any one issue, especially a very important issue such as terrorism. No one can condone terrorism; it is the enemy of the people of the world. I welcome the Bill and I look forward to its speedy passage through this House.

I also welcome this Bill. It is a tremendous achievement as far as it goes. To get 100 countries to agree on the colour of the paint is a magnificent achievement, never mind getting something written down which people actually sign. I appreciate what the Minister said: to try to change that or to get a new arrangement is not on.

I welcome the main thrust of the proposed Act. A number of things are causing me slight confusion. It is very important to have a definition of an aerodrome. When we discussed the custom and excise Bill recently I asked: what is an airport and when is an airport not an airport? I have had some involvement in this area. I happen to know that there are 56 airstrips in the State.

I would welcome a list of the aerodromes. It would be useful to have for this discussion.

I listened to Senator Cassidy talk about Knock airport and asking would it be extended. My understanding of section 24 or 25, whichever is the appropriate one, was that these regulations could be extended to Knock or any of the other ones. All we are doing in that section saying that the regulations which are required for State airfields or aerodromes could also and should be extended to other aerodromes. Do I take it from that, that they will be extended to other aerodromes? It is important to get cleared.

I have a special interest in Knock because I was the one who arranged the very first flight into it. I am delighted to see it is proving to be a successful airport. The support and help of the officials of the Department at that time were greatly appreciated in part of a fund raising effort. The very necessary drawing together of regulations will make the whole area somewhat clearer. I do not think anybody will oppose this Bill. No reasonable person could oppose the provisions of the Bill. I will raise some questions and make some comments which I hope the Minister would respond to.

The first question I want to raise follows on from what Senator Cassidy was saying about flying without insurance. I know it is somewhat peripheral to the Bill but the requirements for insurance are very stringent, as they should be. I have some sympathy with the point raised by Senator Cassidy that the fines seem low on the basis of the amount of damage that could be done and the potential for harm. There could be cases where companies could handle a larger fine and should pay it.

Could the Minister explain why, if I want to take somebody, say the Leader of the House, and go flying, I do not need insurance. I do not understand that. If every car on the road has to have insurance why should every aircraft not require insurance? I have heard the argument that planes do not tend to fall out of the sky on top of people but there is more and more leisure flying and there was a case within the last month where a plane nearly fell out of the sky on top of people. I am not trying to learn everything from a single incident. Even though the risk is very small and therefore the premiums should not be very high it should be considered by the Minister and the requirement for insurance should be extended to private and leisure time flying as well.

On the section of the Bill which relates to the regulations required for an aerodrome, I know there are some smaller licensed airfields which are not fully complying with the terms of their licences. I am talking about the requirements for fire cover. I have been involved in instances where planes have landed in licensed airfields where there have been no fire arrangements which should have been there by virtue of their licence. The reason I raise this is because in section 6 there are important requirements being built in. Are we going to police those? How will they be policed? Can we be assured that they will be policed in a way that will prove to be effective? There are many airports, particularly Waterford, Sligo and Galway, which act absolutely correctly and are providing an important service. I presume they are not aerodromes under this Bill. Maybe they are but I think they are just licensed airfields. I am talking about much smaller ones than that, where there are licences. I would ask that it be done for the sake of protecting the paying passenger but also we should look at people who are involved in flying for other reasons.

With regard to section 10 and the need for insurance policy for public liability, I would ask that it should be considered as something that private, foreign or leisure time flyers should also have to have. We would not be talking about a very high premium because the risk of hitting a third party would be slim. What about the third party in the aeroplane? If it is the aeroplane owner who is piloting the plane and there is somebody with him or her, what kind of cover extends to that person if any? I do not think there is any at the moment.

I have a problem with section 10 (3). There may be a good reason for it. I ask the Minister to explain it in his reply. It is required that a licence will be deemed to be revoked if insurance lapses. It should not be an offence for an aircraft operator to operate a commercial flight to such an aerodrome until and unless the Minister has promulgated the fact of its licence having lapsed. In other words, if I am operating an advertised, commercial flight from aerodrome A to aerodrome B and the insurance on aerodrome B has lapsed and I have no way of knowing that, it seems that I could be a victim of circumstances totally outside my control. I agree that where insurance lapses the licence should lapse as well but there should be some requirement on the Minister to make it known by way of statement. There should be some way of communicating that information.

Section 22 deals with the investigation of accidents. I agree that section 22 should be wide ranging. It says it is to cover any event or circumstances likely to threaten the safety of any aircraft or any person. That seems very wide ranging. Is this an investigation after the event? If that is the case I could understand the need for it to be wide ranging so that we would not be restricted in what would need to be investigated, but perhaps, in response, the Minister might make that point clear to me. I agree that the whole area of the investigation of accidents should be wide and broad.

There is need for a confidential incident reporting system which is used in other countries. I am sure the Minister and his officials are aware of the system of reporing either in the UK or the US. It is called CHIRP. I think that is the confidential human incident reporting process. It allows for the suggestion box idea where pilots who have been involved in dangerous circumstances can report it. I read in the newspapers recently about pilots dozing off on long night flights. If that happened in a commercial aircraft the pilot would feel troubled about the problems it could create: it could lead to an accident but he might, by virtue of human nature, not be prepared to report that he or she almost fell asleep on the flight.

There are ways in which this kind of information could be brought to our attention. There is a danger that pilots can doze off on long flights or that in the running of the operation there could be built-in problems we might never get to hear about. For people to make straight complaints or to make information available to us, may threaten their job security if they have to speak about their own firm or their own activities. We need to look very carefully at this area to provide a confidential incident reporting system like the CHIRP system. These things could be brought to the notice of aircraft operators who would then see that pilots or other crew are in danger of falling asleep or have been working for too long and so on. These systems have worked in other countries. Aviation personnel should be made aware of what is happening.

Why do the Department not establish and publish maximum requirements for crew hours and minimum rest periods? I am sure there is a very good reason for this but it is something I have never understood. On the various air navigation orders certain requirements are sought but there should be a set of operating procedures which would be required by the State. The position at the moment is that carriers have their own set of operational procedures which have to be approved by the Department. The Department should have certain minimum requirements. I know the operators of aircraft must include the duty hours and the rest periods which must be approved by the Department. The different crews from different companies and different operators are operating different requirements. It is time we pulled this together. So much has been done in this Bill to pull different activities together but if we do not want a pilot working in straight stretches longer than a certain number of hours then we should say that is a condition for all companies.

There is another area which has to do with the safety regulations. I am aware that the cabin crews requirment in commercial aircraft has to do with the safety element of it. In other words, cabin crews are needed if there has to be an emergency evacuation of the plane or whatever. At the same time, although the operations manual of the different operators has to carry minimum acceptable requirements on the role and hours of work etc. of pilots, there is no protection for the cabin crew. In other words, the cabin crew could work a 24 hour period and in the event of an incident they are in many ways more crucial than the pilot in terms of what is happening to the passengers and if any difficulties arise. We should consider looking at the number of hours they work in any one stretch. I am not talking about glamour or conditions of service. I am talking here purely of safety. To sum up that section, even though cabin crews are required under safety regulations there is no maximum requirement in terms of hours worked. We might look at that.

In section 19 there is a phrase which suggests that the proceedings may be held in private or otherwise. I accept that. There are times when in the interests of public confidence an investigation might be heard in private. I would make one suggestion to the Minister, the wisdom of which he might accept. Instead of saying that proceedings might be held confidentially, could we add to that that proceedings, or part thereof, might be held in confidence? In other words, there might be an investigation which it would be in our interest to have in public in the same way as legal proceedings take place, but there might be part of those proceedings which we might prefer to have in private. To allow that to happen we might add to that section that part of the proceedings might be declared confidential. I would throw that at the Minister and hope that he would respond positively to it. It is a reasonable approach to the problem.

Section 30 refers to the detention of an aircraft because its previous owner may not have paid aerodrome charges. I need to be convinced that that is a fair way of going about it. If I, in good faith, buy an aircraft from a party and do not realise that there are debts to be discharged on the particular aircraft, and I am running a commercial flight and I arrive at a particular airport and suddenly my aircraft is seized because the previous owner did not pay costs that were incurred through flying that aircraft into the same aerodrome, this is unfair. There is a civil debt there. It is a civil liability and it should be pursued in that way. It seems to me somewhat unfair that somebody who is totally and utterly innocent should suffer. Not only would he or she suffer but the company — and it could well be a fledgling company — could suffer and suffer very badly at that point. It should be processed as a civil debt. Maybe the Minister would come back to me on that.

Section 31, on the powers of detention is very wide-ranging. I am glad it states that in the case of detention or arrest they would have to hand the person over immediately to the Garda. I agree that these particular people could seek the name, address, business, luggage etc. of suspected persons. I agree with that completely. In his reply could the Minister explain who the authorised officers here would include? I suspect it means people like customs officers, airport police and so on but I would like to have it spelled out for my own information because I would not like it to be any Tom, Dick or Harry. If we are talking about private security firmset cetera I would certainly want to hear it. I would not like us to be flinging powers to people over whom we have no control or who have not accountability. They should be people of accountability. I do not think I should be able to hire somebody as part of a security operation at the airport and then have this person with no qualifications whatsoever with these wide-ranging powers. That would be dangerous and I would like the Minister to come back to that.

I would like to refer to the question of air fares. Deregulation is very topical at the moment. This allows people to fly everywhere and there is no doubt that fares have come down. I would make a number of points on this and I hope the Minister will take them on board. First, I agree with the requirement to reduce the time in which a Minister has to respond to an application for a reduced air fare from 21 to 14 days. That is acceptable but because it has been reduced could I say to the Minister that there is nothing as annoying as aircraft operators advertising fares which will come into operation next week after the Minister has approved them. That is absolutely contemptuous. I would prefer the Minister to drop that section if that can continue.

I am a great pressure lobbyist and I agree with the whole idea of lobbying and putting pressure on people but there are certain requirements which we need to build into it. If the Minister has authority to decide on it, he should exercise the authority. It is misleading advertising to say, "as and from 1 December we will be able to fly you to London for £5 return when the Minister has approved it". That is wrong and incorrect. All the air carriers have done this and even those from whom we might expect better have done this over the past year. So this is a case where the Minister should put the boot in because it is wrong that people can come here from other countries and tell us how to run our business and, in a sense, put the State aside. This is what I see they have done.

I would like to ask the Minister this very thorny question: are some low air fares, in fact, below cost selling? I would like to get a response on that. We have discussed below cost selling and we have come to the conclusion that the consumer does not win on below cost selling. I feel this about the deregulation of air fares. I am not wearing my anti-privatisation hat when I make this comment. I am making it purely from a consumer's point of view. I believe that airlines should have to prove to the Minister that the fare which they intend charging is an economic and realistic fare on the basis of the cost of providing that seat. I want to give the reason for this. It is not that I want to deprive people of cheap travel, far from it, but I have looked at what has happened in the US. What has happened there is this: when deregulation came into operation ten years ago fares went down to rock bottom.

We are having a precise rerun of it here in Ireland at the moment. The fares dropped and that is good for the consumer. It is bad for the small company, for this reason — the large company can afford to take a loss on low cost fares until such time as the small company goes out of business. They have now reached a stage in the United States where there are five or six huge operators and the smaller companies have all gone to the wall. Consequently low cost flying is a thing of the past in the US. In other words, deregulation has eventually led to a higher cost of flying after a period when the fares did go down. I ask the Minister to take that on board.

In Ireland we are very much exposed to the huge multinational foreign airline operator who could come in here and operate cheaply. Let us take the Dublin-London route which is certainly in the top three most lucrative airline routes in Europe, if not in the world. If somebody wanting to break into that route, a huge multinational with billions of pounds behind them, they could get working in a deregulated situation to run that flight tomorrow morning and they could run it at such a low cost, taking a loss on it, that they would wipe out the smaller competition. I remember hearing the chief officer of Aer Lingus talking last year about the need for Aer Lingus to build a very close working relationship or to tie itself in with some of the larger European groups. I see at the moment that two of the big British companies — I think it is British Airways and British Caledonian — have joined forces, having the same idea in mind. What I am afraid of is that we are going down the road to creating four, five or half a dozen huge international airline companies who will have a total and absolute monopoly and will wipe out whatever good we are already getting out of deregulation so that our last position will be worse than our first. I would like a logical movement in that area.

I have indicated what has happened in the US. It is the customer who has suffered because of monopolies. There is a worse service now in the US than there was ten years ago, to the extent that in the recent past the US Government has had to force by regulation some airlines to change their timetables. The situation has occurred in the US at the moment, with the stacking up of aircraft over various airports and consequent delays in take-offs and landings that companies have advertised flights from a "chalks off, chalks on" time that have been not only totally and utterly unrealistic, but unattainable. They have said: "We will fly you from A to B and you will leave at 10 o'clock and arrive at 11.30" and the Government have had to step in and say: "That is not possible". In other words, they have had to stop them advertising in that way. That is part of what happens when we move down the road of deregulation. I would ask the Minister to take a fairly firm hand in the question of advertising control and of planned deregulation.

As I have said, the London-Dublin route is the most lucrative one available to us at the moment and one of the top three most lucrative in Europe, if not further afield. At present, we have three British Airlines — British Airways, Danair and Virgin — flying against two Irish — 3 to 2 — out of Dublin, Dublin-London. How many more are we going to allow to move in here? I am asking a question here. All the UK operators want to get into the Dublin-London operation. Are we going to allow them in or are we going to make sure that we have control of that particular situation? This is Thatcher's idea of free and equal competition — let everybody run everything. That would allow the large company with large resources to wipe out the Irish operators. We had better just take that on board and remember it.

For instance, when we were looking for somebody to fly out to Knock, we had this situation. The Minister and I know that some of the companies who were approached to do that were asking that you would subsidise on a "per seat" basis the flight from Knock to London. That flight is now being worked as a commercial profit making operation. Now other people want to get in on the act. I am just saying that it is going to be a lucrative London route out of Ireland. We need regulations to deal with that kind of area because deregulation has short term gains for the consumer, has long term losses for the consumer, for the company and for the country. That should be taken into account. The Irish carriers have the huge majority of the Dublin-London traffic. Many of the big UK operators — this sounds racist but is not meant to be, I am talking about the whole area of employment in the Irish situation — want to get a slice of that action. I am just appealing to the Minister to make sure that we do not open it up to a level where we are knifing ourselves in the back.

There is another point that arises, namely, the number of UK carriers who operate UK registered aircraft based in Ireland. I have a difficulty with this. It is like the old flags of convenience in the shipping industry. Those who are basing themselves in Ireland and operating from Ireland should be registered in Ireland. I want to hear the arguments against that. I certainly know it is something which Thatcher would not be too keen on on the other side. I am not even sure if that is allowable under British legislation, if an Irish operator could operate from Britain with an Irish registered aircraft. It certainly would not be popular over there. I have some difficulty with it. We have not enough jobs. There are many young pilots without jobs in this country at the moment. If we have UK operators operating UK registered aircraft with UK pilots, that is employment and industry for our people which we are losing. I would like the Minister to look at that.

Do they require permission for UK registered, Irish based operations? What is our contact with them? What control do we have over that operation? Do they need the Minister's permission? That is the main point I want to make.

I am raising questions that worry me, things that I think should be looked at, and I would hate them to be taken as a criticism of the Bill the Minister put in front of us. It is a fine Bill and I make these suggestions in good faith, hoping that he can adopt some of them. I have no doubt that I am not completely right in all the points I have made. I have not done enough research on it, but I do hope that the Minister will take what I have offered in good faith and will respond to it. If he considers it wise to make amendments or that changes should be made, I have no doubt that he will do that.

I want to extend a very sincere welcome to this Bill and to compliment the Minister, not only on introducing the Bill but on the very full and open explanatory memorandum that he has provided to facilitate the Members who are considering this legislation. I would say that the Air Navigation and Transport Bill, 1987 is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before the House in a long while. It has indeed had a long gestation period because back in 1976 while I had the honour of being President of the European Commission for Transport, I organised the first hearing on air navigation in the European Parliament which attracted a very full participation not only from the national carriers in the Community but from the major insurance companies and all the people involved in inter-city transport.

The Bill provides a very comprehensive review and qualification of the legislation which impinges on people who use air transport — the passengers — and also regulations for those people who are in the transportation business. Transport has traditionally been one of the most understated industries in this country. As a matter of fact, transport is responsible for 17 per cent of the GNP in the entire European Community and I am sure the same kind of proportion applies right across the developed world. I am particularly happy with the treatment that the Department and the Minister have given to this very important subject and while we have been waiting for a long time for this legislation, I would hope that the House will be able to give it a very thorough investigation and examination.

The Bill lays down specific obligations on the airport operators and I am sure in that instance it applies to Aer Rianta, a semi-State body. They do a remarkable job but they get very little attention. The management are first class. However, that does not mean I agree with theirmodus operandi. For instance, the prices they charge the general travelling public for parking facilities are close to a rip-off especially since they do not accept any responsibility for damage to or insurance on public property.

With regard to the range of duty free shops, I see no valid reason why Aer Rianta, a semi-State organisation, should charge rent for space in a duty free shop three, four, five or ten times higher than the rent per square foot obtainable in a high street, in Grafton Street, or any street in Dublin. Goods are advertised on public hoardings as duty free but they fail to indicate, in fairness to the public, that the mark up on most of those goods is from 300 per cent to perhaps 1,000 per cent. I am sure a distiller would get £1 per bottle of whiskey if he is very lucky. He certainly would not get more than £1.50 per bottle. Yet in a duty free shop, where the State add nothing at all to the price, the same bottle of whiskey can cost £7, £8 or £9. One can get a bottle of Irish whiskey in a duty free shop in London for £2 a bottle less than in Dublin and in some of the European airports for £1 a bottle less. If you go to the Third World, Africa or the Far East, you can get a bottle of duty free Irish whiskey for £2 per bottle. It is nonsense that a semi-State organisation should be organising a rip-off. They have the trade and they have the throughput. I ask the Minister if he would be kind enough to look at the operation of Aer Rianta and ask them to justify their outrageously high charges. They charge people rents of £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 and £60,000 for a kiosk which is ten or 20 feet wide and this means that the costs of the services have to go up.

The main reason for this Bill is to try to deal with the problem of security on transportation. Section 27, which I think is one of the most important sections in the Bill, sets out the penalties. I would like to see section 41 included in section 27 (2). A person who creates a false alarm or who makes a nuisance call, for example, a bomb scare, and thereby inconveniences an operator and thousands of passengers should have a mandatory prison sentence or a manatory custodial sentence in a mental institution imposed on him. I would like the Minister to consider on Committee Stage the possibility of introducing this.

Perhaps it is because I am a farmer that section 21 is of particular interest to me. I readily accept that every effort should be made to eliminate the danger caused by birds, seagulls, crows or whatever, and it is important that dumps should be sited away from main runways. However, this danger would apply seasonally on lands which are being farmed for cereals in the spring, during the ploughing season and again during the harvest. If the transport authorities decided that land should be frozen, what compensation would be given to a farmer? There should be considerable compensation if a farmer is forced to keep his valuable land in grass all the time.

I recognise that this is a very important Bill. A lot of work has gone into it and I look forward to a very strong and intensive Committee Stage. While there is nothing contentious in the Bill, there are many areas where we need to ensure that the organisation and the industry are treated equally.

On the question of regulations, I would like the Minister to let the House know whether or not it would be possible at this stage to encompass in the terms of the legislation regulations that will look after the provincial airports on the Aran Islands, Waterford, Farranfore and Oranmore in Galway. Each one of those regional airports is reporting increased business every year. It would be very appropriate if the regulations were to apply to those airports as well.

I would also like to acknowledge the kindness of the Leader of the House in facilitating me to make those few remarks. I compliment the Minister on this very valuable legislation and look forward to a very full Committee Stage.

I will not delay the House very long on this legislation. However, there are some points I would like to make. I welcome the Minister to the House, particularly when he is bringing in a Bill of this nature which is intended to make passengers more aware of the safety that is needed in air travel.

Air travel has increased enormously during the past number of years. Irrespective of what has been said by other Senators, deregulation has played a major part in this increase in traffic. For a number of years there seemed to be a reluctance on the part of our national airline, Aer Lingus, to allow competition into many areas and, in particular, the cross-channel area. Competition did come in and thankfully Aer Lingus have been able to respond to that competition. Because they have been able to respond, prices have come down significantly and because prices have come down significantly, air traffic has increased. In a way this is a two edged sword in that it has made it possible for more people to leave Ireland and go across to England for holidays, shopping or whatever, and at the same time it has played a major part in again allowing Irish people who are living in England, in particular, to come back to Ireland on holidays. There was a time from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties when it was much cheaper for people in England to go to sunny countries for their holidays rather than come back to Ireland. The situation has reversed itself because fares have come down. There is a greater availability of fares and a greater availability of flight times.

The main object of this Bill is to ensure the safety of people who travel. This is very necessary. Of course one of the problems with this increase in air traffic is that airports which were suitable for catering for smaller numbers are now expected to cater for much larger numbers. This is creating major problems especially because of the huge amount of people who are travelling on charter flights and the increased number of aircraft which are coming in and out of the country.

One of the problems of this increase which has not been addressed so far is that because of large numbers of people and the big public houses in these airports, unfortunately there seems to be too much drinking going on. Drink definitely plays a major part in creating hassle at airports and on airplanes. There should be some protocol in the operation of airport drinking facilities. A number of people who go to airports are under stress because they are not used to flying. They take a certain amount of alcohol and they become over-stressed and this can create problems for other passengers on the plane and the cabin staff and it does not help the safe operation of aircraft.

The increased numbers of passengers going through airports creates its own problems. However, hopefully we will be able to increase the facilities at our airports and Aer Rianta will have the money to increase the facilities to deal with the increasing number of travellers.

Mention has been made of the duty free shops operated by Aer Rianta. I agree with the comments made by Senator McDonald, in particular, on this. There seems to be an element of rip-off in some of these shops. Even though the shops are operating on a duty free basis there is absolutely no doubt that profit margins seem to be very high. It may be that the profit margins are not extremely high but that the cost of renting space in these shops is very high. This might be the reason prices are so high.

People should take no notice of the advertisement for duty free goods at airports. It is now possible for visitors to claim back VAT on items purchased in Ireland. They can get VAT back on items which are bought in ordinary shops throughout the country. There is a very good probability that, if they buy in the ordinary retail shops down town and claim their VAT back at the point of exit, they will find that the advantage is with the shops down town and not with the duty free shops at the airport.

The question of safety in terms of operation is one that we have to address ourselves to, not alone with regard to the airline operators and aerodromes but equally with regard to air traffic control. It would appear that there are increasing pressures on air traffic controllers throughout the world because of the huge increase in air traffic. Because of the stress these air traffic controllers are under at major aerodromes, there is an increasing probability that at some stage there could be a major air disaster, especially at airports where the stacking of planes goes on on a regular basis. Stacking is happening more and more at the major airports throughout the world. Indeed, it happens on occasion at Dublin Airport when there are delays coming into the airport because of increased traffic. This did not happen before.

Safety at airports is of paramount importance. I do not think anybody should criticise the fact they might be inconvenienced going into an airport if they have to have their baggage checked, or if they have to undergo a body check. It is absolutely necessary that these checks should be carried out. Too often in the past not alone have minor pieces of equipment that could be used to hijack a plane been brought aboard, but Uzi machine guns, hand grenades and so forth have been brought aboard also. I never worry about being checked going into an airport and I do no think anybody else should criticise the fact there is security. The more security there is in an airport, the more secure the passengers will be when they get on board.

On the question of security, one of the airports I am not entirely satisfied about using is Luton Airport. Luton Airport seems to be used increasingly by more and more Irish passengers. It is a staging point for British forces who are going out to the Middle East and the Far East and for the wives and families of those soldiers who are going out to visit them. Because of this it is an airport in which security should be maximised. I am never too happy about using that airport because of the lack of security. Passengers can walk in and out without having their bags checked. That should not happen.

The debate has broadened out and there are a number of items that I am a bit worried about. Many people bring back ornamental knives from abroad. I have never seen an ornamental knife or any type of knife being checked at a European aerodrome. They should always be checked in and given to the cabin crew for transportation in a special box or place in the cabin. This aspect of safety should be looked at very carefully.

Section 22 deals with the clarification of the definition of an "accident" for investigation. It says: "...`accident' includes any event or circumstance likely to threaten the safety of an aircraft or any person". In cases where small aircraft or helicopters using an airport, because of lack of checking out with the controls at the airport, come within 100 yards, 300 yards or 600 yards of a passenger carrying airline, not alone should they be investigated but they should be prosecuted in every case unless the mistake is not theirs. In most cases it has been found that the fault was that of the operator of the small plane who thought he was using the aerodrome in a safe manner.

The question of the nominated aerodromes is important. I am glad the Minister said the specified aerodromes can be widened out to include aerodromes other than those in Shannon, Cork and Dublin. There has been an increase in the number of small aerodromes around the country. Generally these aerodromes are operated in a very safe manner. Some of them may not be in the safest of places. One particular aerodrome has a main road on one side of it and a railway line on the other side. I do not think that in future people should be allowed to set up aerodromes in places like that. Smaller aerodromes are an essential feature of modern air traffic. They are being used more and more as feeders for the main aerodromes and they will play a more important part in the increasing use of airlines. Therefore, the requirements of smaller aerodromes should be strictly adhered to and strict rules should have to be adopted by the people who operate them.

The prohibition or restriction on the use of land adjacent to aerodromes was raised by Senator McDonald. It is a tricky problem. One of the problems people who run airports have is that they want to build the airport close enough to the centres of the population so that people will not have to travel long distances. Nevertheless they cannot bring the aerodromes into areas where farms and buildings would have to be sanitised. You cannot sanitise hundreds of acres of land just for the purpose of helping out in the development of an airport.

There is no real control over parking at Cork, Dublin or Shannon airports. On the way into Dublin Airport there are two people in a security cabin who, generally speaking, wave the cars on. Other than at times when there has been a scare I have very rarely seen a car stopped. The cars go into the carpark. There is absolutely no check on them. The cars are left in the carpark which is within 20 feet of a very crowded air terminal. That should not be allowed to happen.

There would be major problems if bombs were brought into these carparks. Carparks should be placed much further away from the air terminals and where the planes are parked. Feeder buses should be provided to bring people to and from these carparks. I know some people do not like to walk even ten yards to get to where they want to go. Nevertheless from a safety angle the cars should not be parked as close to air terminal buildings as they are at present. I do not think that is a major problem but nevertheless it is a problem.

I am not too sure whether I am wrong or somebody else is wrong but I got the impression that some people think 100 countries have already signed the convention on compensation. It does not seem, from reading the Bill, the Minister's notes or the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum that this is so. It would appear that there are very few countries which have signed it. I would like clarification on whether the United States have signed the protocols which would allow for increased payments to be made for people who have been killed or badly injured in air crashes. Up to now the compensation was £10,000. This was derisory and in many cases people had to go to courts to get that amount. I agree with the sentiments expressed that £90,000 is still not enough. However, it is a lot better than £10,000.

The Minister and some of the other speakers referred to the shooting down of private aircraft. Mention was made of the shooting down by the USSR of a Korean airline 747 in USSR aerospace in September 1983. The plane was in USSR territory and the pilot had been acquainted with the fact that he was in USSR territory and he did not respond to the request to get out of that territory. There is absolutely no justification for the shooting down of a civil airline. Nevertheless it has been accepted that that civil airline, which was carrying a number of passengers, was using equipment which could not be suggested as being anything other than military spying material. Even though I agree totally with the concept of people refraining from the use of weapons against civil aviation there should be a protocol which states that civil airlines should not carry equipment of a military nature because if they do, unfortunately the consequences can be disastrous for the people on board these planes.

Ireland has a marvellous record in terms of our interest in the safety aspect of aviation. I think that will continue. This Bill will help, to a large degree, to eliminate some of the problems that have arisen during the past number of years in the safe operation of our airlines. I commend the Minister for bringing the Bill to the House.

The Bill is an excellent one and I congratulate the Minister and his junior Minister on bringing it before us. There are a few points I would like to make.

We have seen a vast increase in the number of people who use air transport. It has been proven that it is one of the most improved work areas in the modern world. This is obvious from the number of people who now fly. The improvements that have taken place in Irish air transport business during the past few years are enormous. I take the opportunity, as the Minister did yesterday in the press; to congratulate the people involved on the work they are putting into it.

There are many areas where we would readily admit that we would like to see more happening to ensure that security and safety regulations are adhered to at all costs. The vast majority of people who fly are not fully aware of what travelling by aeroplane means. When I fly I am very conscious of the fact that I am sitting inside something over which I do not have any control.

I want to refer to Senator Lanigan's last point. I too was very disturbed at the shooting down of a civil airline in USSR air space in 1983 — if it was a Russian space area. The definitions of "air corridors" and "air space" must be broadened. I read a lot about that incident and I did not read that something was used to spy on another country. I know that in international airlines there are constant debates and discussions and international committees have been set up. If equipment was used to spy on another country we did not have the authority to question those who allowed that equipment to go on that plane and put at risk the lives of innocent passengers to find out something about another country.

If that is the case it is right and proper to ask questions of the international authorities. It is appalling that countries are prepared to blow a plane out of the sky if something on that plane is spying on them. I could not agree that the answer to that is to eliminate it. If there are international authorities and places where we can ask these questions, that is where they should be asked. I am sure that aircraft carrying this equipment can be investigated. To take innocent lives is diabolical.

There are areas where we have free competition. Since that has been implemented we have seen a massive improvement and a massive decrease in the price of fares. Many Senators have referred to that. Many people come into our country not alone through our excellent airline, Aer Lingus, but also through other airlines giving them an equally excellent service. Ryanair, for instance, are a local company. I congratulate them on their achievements over the past 12 months and the amount of business that they took from other airlines.

Airlines from other countries are allowed into our country, and rightly so. I am not objecting to the fact that British Airways are allowed to use Dan-Air and are now very much involved in taking many passengers out of our country to other lands. Ryanair are trying to compete. Senator O'Toole made a vital point when he said some of the big companies could stifle smaller companies. Aer Arann has already been stifled. It went to the wall about two years ago. That company tried to improve the service.

Ryanair still have not got a facility they are entitled to. I would like to know if the Minister and the Department are constantly asking the British authorities why Ryanair cannot fly direct from Cork to Luton. It is appalling that the flight must land in Dublin, turn around and go back out the runway and up again. That is despicable. People trying to compete against excellent airlines such as Aer Lingus got every facility down through the years from the State, such as enormous amounts of moneys and capital grants with no payment back to the State. When will we ask the British authorities to please allow them to fly direct into Luton Airport from Cork? It is most unfair to that airline. There is no incentive for anybody else to open up another business and provide more competition. I would like to know why they are not getting the facility.

Why are we not asking Dan-Air or British Airlines to land in Dublin before coming to Cork? Air France, for instance who have a very old licence, decided two years ago that they wanted to fly direct from Paris to Cork. They made no apology. In an agreement reached between Aer Lingus and Air France, Air France decided to come into Cork on Sundays because they found business was improving. I am not saying they should not be allowed to do that, but I am asking why our people who want to compete, who are providing excellent work — it is the one area that has been positive as regards creating work in our society over the last 12 months — are not getting the same facility from other countries. Why are we not asking other countries to allow our people to have fair competition? Why are Aer Lingus not allowed flights out of Heathrow to Amsterdam or to any other country? Are they not allowed do so, or are they being stifled from doing so? Senator O'Toole referred to that and I know Aer Lingus are seeking that facility.

Aer Lingus are an excellent company. We can be very proud of them. I feel very comfortable when I am sitting in an Aer Lingus aircraft or any Irish aircraft. There is a very comfortable atmosphere and an impression of an ease and no particular rush. I recognise also that the staffing of the Aer Lingus and Ryanair aircraft is excellent. I am aware, because I have travelled with other companies, that there is an impression of ease. We do not want to lose that. We do not want to give an impression that we are in a hurry.

I congratulate Aer Lingus on their new achievement in the purchase of the Boeing 737/300S and I know another one will be on the way in two weeks' time. There is an air of confidence again which is good for the country generally and it shows that we are not looking backwards. Aer Lingus are prepared to come up with the finance directly out of their own funding.

About three or four years ago we had arguments about Aer Lingus cutting back on air flights out of Cork because of lack of business. Dan-Air and British Airways come in and we found there was more business and more competition. The Minister was involved as a Deputy at the time in the long arguments with Aer Lingus and Aer Rianta about facilities generally and about the type of aircraft needed to get people out of the southern region. They purchased small commuter aircraft. I am not saying small commuter aircraft are not as good as others but I wonder if it was realistic thinking at the time. Something like £9 million was spent at that time on small commuter aircraft which were made in Belfast.

In 1982, less than five years ago, they were saying there was no concern about the lengthening of runways, no concern about the need for bigger aircraft. There was no concern shown about extra business because the extra business would not be there. This came from the main management of Aer Lingus at a meeting with Oireachtas members, at which no concern was shown about the cutting back of services. In a short period of time, even though there was no great improvement generally in our country, air travel has vastly improved. It was felt by Aer Rianta and Aer Lingus that in the Shannon and Cork airports there was no need for any improvement, there was no need for any extension, the smaller aircraft would operate to bring passengers to the bigger aircraft, in other words from Cork to Dublin, where they would join the bigger aircraft.

Suddenly, because of other air companies coming in, strong emphasis was put on improvements. I have no objection to that. It shows that even in our airline companies there was no broad-minded or long term thinking at that time. We should keep our options open. This is why I say the Department should recognise that the companies who are trying very hard to get flights into other airports should get every help possible.

I welcome the idea of holiday companies using other airports. This winter in Cork we will have over four hour flights to Las Palmas, but unfortunately it is Spanish airlines who will be doing this. I have been in Dublin Airport on many Sundays, but I was not aware that Aer Lingus were a very busy company on Sundays. Why are our local travel agents not considering using the local airlines to run these flights from Cork Airport on Sundays or from Shannon Airport? Flights go from Shannon in the winter time. People are using them and they are quite busy. Even in bad times many people are taking winter breaks. We must be realistic and recognise that. If we have 100 people flying out of Cork on Sunday I would like very much to see Aer Lingus aircraft used. If an Aer Lingus aircraft is lying idle or not working to its full capacity on a Sunday, why are we using Spanish airlines? Why are we not asking our local companies to use local airlines and local aircraft? I resent that very much.

Over the past few years Aer Rianta have made massive progress. They made a profit of £11.4 million, for the first time ever, last year. They made £500,000 the year before. Up to a few years ago they were not making money; in fact, they were losing money. I know there was constant pressure on the previous Government — and the Minister was very much involved — for holding back the allocation of £1 for an extension of the runway in Cork by 1,000 yards. The extension at Dublin Airport of a runway will cost about £43 million.

It is a reduced amount.

If it is at a reduced amount in Dublin, why were Aer Rianta not asked to use some of the £11.4 million they made last year in Cork? I am not saying the new runway is not needed in Dublin Airport; it is. Senator Lanigan pointed out that there is a build-up over Dublin and a new runway is needed. That runway will not start for some time because of arguments about removing roadways and housing. Why was there so much commotion and so much argument at the sime when Aer Rianta had made £11.4 million in one year, thanks to good management, not alone in Dublin but in Shannon and in Cork in particular? I congratulate them on that.

When one looks at the prices at which they are able to sell goods it is no wonder that they can make £11.4 million. I am very much involved in a particular trade and I know that a particular bottle of spirits can be purchased from a local distillery at a certain price with no duty, no taxes and no VAT. When I see an increase of 600 per cent, that is a bit too much.

We introduced a Bill some time ago to ban "no smoking" and "no drinking" signs. Yet when you go into our airports, before you get to the duty free area at all you see signs: "Do not forget to buy duty free. We will give you a bottle at such a price." Not only that, but they will also give a bottle for nothing if you purchase something else. It is easy for them when they are paying only £1 for it. That is not very good for our young people or for the image of our airports. I would not like the impression to be given that we are trying to do this to sell something else.

Senator Lanigan was right in saying if you look realistically at the cost of goods in airports and compare the cost in our towns or villages — and in particular a village like Blarney which is doing very well — they are dearer. The Minister is aware that in Blarney there are signs all over the place indicating that you can get your duty and VAT back. At airports nothing like that is emphasised. Have Aer Lingus or Aer Rianta the right to say they are entitled to charge so much per square foot for something they are selling that belongs to a semi-State body? We must ask the private sector to do everything possible to get people into our country in order that costs can be reduced. In our semi-State structures where the costs are increasing the impression is that they can do what they like because nobody will question them.

I had an experience in a particular airport where the emphasis was put very strongly on making sure you bought at that airport. It is only right if you are leaving Ireland that you should buy in Ireland before you go. That is very good selling. They should not tell people: "You are better off to buy here because it will cost you more in another airport on the way back, or you will not be able to get it on the way back." I resent that. It is not good for air travellers generally.

An argument has been made concerning less duty free goods. When people come here the first thing they see is what our airports are like. How do our costs compare with other airports? Staff at our airports are our ambassadors to our visitors who are vital to us as a country.

I have no objection to extra safety measures. We should have extra customs officers. Every facility possible should be given to help people with their baggage. Aer Lingus are excellent as regards baggage. When baggage is lost they are very helpful. We need to keep pressure on people who are availing of State money and getting every facility possible.

I congratulate Aer Rianta in the service they are giving but serious questions arise as to whether they are putting more emphasis on what they can gain from passengers or than what they can do for them. Our prime products are on sale in Airports. Our diamond, glass and other products made here are on show in our airports. I welcome the Bill and I wish it well.

I hope in the next few minutes to reply to some of the points raised by Senators. I would like to thank them for their support for the Bill and I welcome their contributions which indicated the deep and detailed knowledge and concern Senators have in this area.

Senator Bradford's supportive contribution makes time available for me to deal with questions raised by others. Senator Cassidy dealt with the Connaught Regional Airport and he was in some doubt about the security position also mentioned by other Senators. There is a local security committee at Connaught Regional Airport comprising the airport board and the airline, which is Ryanair and the Garda Síochána. This committee reports to the National Civil Aviation Security Committee.

The development of Connaught Airport was mentioned. Everybody should be aware of the supportive role of the Minister and the Government for the airport and for airlines wishing to serve that airport, as instanced by Ryanair serving Luton, Birmingham, Manchester and with plans for other destinations. The Minister will at all times consider favourably applications from other airlines wishing to serve Connaught whether on a scheduled or chartered basis.

There is a wide and varied view on the prohibition or restriction of dumping near airports. The experience of people travelling to other airports, where they might not have land as freely available to them, is that one can see crops growing between runways. The circumstances of each airport must be the deciding factor in permitting dumping near airports. There is no excuse for it at airports. That must be disallowed.

Senator Cassidy suggested a two mile free zone. It can be considered. This Bill applies to all civil airports including the three State airports and Connaught airport. There was some doubt early in the debate about where this Bill applies and to what airports it applies.

The question of penalties was raised by a number of Senators. The Bill provides that the present fines of £5 to £1,000 will be increased to £1,000 at District Court level, and to £50,000 at Circuit Court level.

Senator O'Toole raised many points. I will deal with them as quickly as I can. For the purposes of the Bill, "aerodrome" means all aerodromes licensed or authorised under the Air Navigation and Transport Acts. That should be clear. That does not include military aerodromes under the aegis of the Minister for Defence. A list of the licensed aerodromes can be supplied to the Senator if he wants it, or any other Senator.

Senator O'Toole inquired about the position regarding aircraft insurance which was raised also by other Senators. The requirements governing leisure flying are under consideration and the Senators' comments are noted and will be considered in that context. Authorised scheduled and charter flights must be appropriately insured before they can take off. This is departmental policy.

We will be keeping the insurance position of every aerodrome under constant review. Section 10 requires aerodrome operators to give the Minister a copy of the insurance certificate which will indicate its period of validity. I am acknowledging the seriousness with which Members consider the aspects of insurance. Investigation of accidents must be as wide as possible and this is the case in practice. All section 22 of the Bill does is to make it clear legally that the investigation of accidents is all-embracing. Security measures are designed to operate at all airports but specifically at centres through which international air services operate, for instance, Cork, Dublin, Shannon, which are State airports and Connaught, Waterford and Carrickfin in County Donegal. All airports to which international regular air services operate and have local securities with these will report to the Department on their standards etc.

Senator O'Toole suggested that there should be a confidential system for persons to draw attention to security and safety deficiencies without endangering their own jobs. Such a suggestion has been made in the past in respect of both pilots and air traffic controllers and I will be pleased to look at procedures in this area. Senator O'Toole also asked whether section 19 allowed the court to hear part of the proceedings as well as the whole of the proceedings in camera. The short answer to that is yes. Each airline must prepare an Operations Manual, subject to clearance by the Department of Tourism and Transport, setting out rest periods for cabin crews and general operating requirements in line with international standards. There must be flexibility for airlines to allow for events but not to create danger in allowing any flexibilities. For example, delays in aircraft take-off would extend cabin time without endangering anybody.

A number of other questions were raised. The last Senator I dealt with was Senator O'Toole. A number of questions have been raised by various Senators so, when I reply, if I do not mention the Senator's name it means that the question has been raised by more than one.

Below-cost selling was raised and I would be concerned about that. The Department have not received any complaints in that regard from either the airlines or the users. I should say, however, that it is a function of my Department to monitor the finances of Irish airlines and to ensure ongoing financial viability. So far there are no concerns in that regard.

I note also Senators' concern about the Dublin-London route and the number of carriers. Our proposals for liberalisation in Europe including routes to the UK are designed to ensure that there is a steady and planned liberalisation without overhasty expansion.

Regarding the use of foreign aircraft in Ireland, this is a reflection of the growing trend towards the leasing of aircraft. Guinness Peat Aviation is a world leader in this market which provides both aircraft on the Irish register and crews to foreign airlines. Similarly on a regional basis there may be foreign aircraft being used in this country.

I should add that Aer Lingus have a successful subsidiary which recruits aircraft personnel for foreign airlines and I believe that we are a net exporter of these services. That is something of which we should all be proud, and justifiably proud.

Sales and advertising of fares with small print stuck in somewhere was of concern to some Senators. There are cases where, for competitive reasons, airlines proceed with the sale and advertising of expected new fares but normally such advertisements specify that approval has been sought and is awaited. That is the important thing. Airlines run the risk that they themselves would have to compensate passengers who bought tickets on the basis of expected new tariffs which were not subsequently approved. They could be on slippery ground there.

Senator McDonald and other Senators dealt with disruption from birds, and dumps, and so on, and I think I have covered that already to some extent. On section 41 of the Bill he mentioned that the fines and imprisonment for false alarms at airports should be looked at. He rightly linked sections 27 and 41. As I have already mentioned, the fines are being raised from £5 to £1,000 at a lower court level and — or six months' imprisonment, and at the higher court level up to £50,000 and/or three years' imprisonment. It is within the jurisdiction of the courts to apply these.

Duty-free was also mentioned. That is basically a matter for the Minister for Finance. I will make Senators' comments on that available to the proper quarter.

Over-drinking at airports is another matter which Senators raised. Of course, cabin crews and security staff at airports are increasingly aware of the danger of passengers having too much intoxicating liquor at airports and there have been many cases of passengers being refused boarding because of this.

Senator Lanigan mentioned protocols to the Warsaw Convention which the US had not ratified. The US were moving towards ratification of the protocols but there is now likely to be a further short delay. All the documentation is ready in the Department of Transport but the appointment of a new Secretary of Transportation is awaited.

I am sure that will not delay anything unduly.

Senator Lanigan mentioned air traffic controllers. I recognise the hard work and valuable contribution made by air traffic controllers employed by my Department to the smooth and efficient working of civil aviation and airspace. I am sure Senators would agree with those sentiments.

I am also particularly disappointed that Ryanair have not been allowed to fly directly from Cork to Luton. They have to touch down in Dublin and it is costing them £1,000 to burn some rubber on the tarmac and they must do the same coming back. It is a ludicrous situation.

It is immoral.

I want to assure the Senator and the Seanad that my Cabinet colleague, Deputy Wilson, has been pressing since last May to allow Ryanair to operate Cork-Luton-Shannon and Luton-Dublin-Manchester. The Minister has written to his UK counterpart on several occasions and has raised the matter at European Council level with the Council of Transport Ministers, but so far the UK are still demanding a high price in return for allowing services over these routes to proceed. The issue is still being pressed. It could also be resolved in the context of the EC package to liberalise European air transport. I am hopeful that this will be adopted by the end of the year and that this ludicrous situation will be a thing of the past. I am satisfied that there is a role for the medium and small airline in Europe where there is liberalisation of routes and there are access opportunities.

Senator Cregan and other Senators referred to the 1983 shooting down of the aircraft with the loss of so many passengers. We all agree that this was appalling.

I will finish by saying to Senators that all the suggestions made by them in the course of the Bill on Second Stage will be considered in the light of the constructive and informative manner in which Members made their contributions so comprehensively. They will all be considered by the Minister, Deputy Wilson, and officials in the Department.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 11 November 1987.