Transport secretary Chris Grayling to face grilling by MPs over Monarch collapse and scrapping electrification plans

 
Rebecca Smith
Monarch Airlines stopped trading at the beginning of October
Monarch Airlines stopped trading at the beginning of October (Source: Getty)

Chris Grayling will be grilled on collapsed airline Monarch, UK aviation's fate post-Brexit, and the scrapping of rail electrification plans when he faces the Transport Select Committee today.

In the first public evidence session for the committee, the transport secretary will face questions over Monarch Airlines, which ceased trading at the beginning of the month and prompted a mass repatriation effort costing £60m.

Read more: British Airways owner IAG eyeing collapsed Monarch's Gatwick slots

Last week, the Committee said it was mulling further investigation into the airline's collapse, after the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents 400 ex-Monarch pilots who lost their jobs, called for a probe into the circumstances surrounding its demise, and the role of the firm's former financial backers.

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood, said at the time that the Committee will seek further information from the transport secretary at today's meeting.

She said:

We don't yet know the whole story behind this, but I expect that members will want to understand more of the detail. If there is any question of impropriety, the Committee will consider the appropriate channels for further investigation.

Balpa said it had a series of questions over the collapse, including whether the group needed to file for insolvency on 2 October, and wanted further detail on reports that Boeing had been injecting capital into the airline from October 2016.

Grayling will also be quizzed over the government's decision to scrap planned electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the North. Instead, faster trains with more seats and better on-board facilities will be rolled out.

The future of UK aviation in the wake of Brexit is another pressing topic, and one that has been in the spotlight of late, after chancellor Philip Hammond said last week that no deal could ground flights between the UK and the EU, but nobody thinks it will happen.

He said: "It is theoretically conceivable that in a no deal scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union on the 29 March 2019. But I don't think anybody seriously believes that that is where we will get to."

The Committee said the £56bn HS2 and Network Rail's recently announced budget for the next five years, are also issues likely to be discussed.

Read more: Chris Grayling: North should take control of its own transport

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