Imperial Airways Inquiry Criticism in the civil aviation debate in
the House of Com- mons last week was directed in particular to the alleged inefficiency of Imperial Airways, but the substantiating facts were drawn largely from comparisons between the European routes of this British company and of foreign companies. Since Imperial Airways avowedly concentrate on imperial routes, such comparisons were not wholly justified. Much valid criticism, however, did arise. The percentage of pas- sengers to and from Croydon carried by British machines is steadily declining, and British aeroplane manufacturers are rapidly losing markets, even within the Empire, to foreign competitors. Most of all perhaps, the Government subsidies paid to Imperial Airways should not, in such circumstances, be devoted to the high dividends which that company is paying its shareholders ; and it seems scarcely reasonable that subsidies should be given to two separate companies competing on similar routes. These criticisms fully justify the departmental enquiry which will be made into the allega- tions of inefficiency.