17th June, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-19.7.26)

My dear P.M.,

I lunched privately with Sir Sefton Brancker yesterday-the Controller of Civil Aviation. He had been going into the suggestion that I threw out to Sir Hugh Trenchard [1]-that the Ismailia-Karachi air service should be extended in the first place to Colombo rather than Burma and Singapore, in order to give us some immediate saving of time on urgent mails and selected passengers to and from Australia.

He said that if the Port Said-Karachi-Colombo route were flown day and night, it would be possible, with a reasonable margin, to pick up the mail from one boat at Port Said and place it on board the boat ahead at Colombo, i.e. a saving in time of seven days.

However, he said that such an extension from Karachi to Colombo was a matter of money. H.M.G. will subsidise the Ismailia-Karachi route to the extent of �93,000 a year. He thinks the Karachi- Colombo extension would mean something in the nature of an additional �20,000 a year subsidy. Who is to find this money? It is but little advantage to the Government of India. The people who would benefit are H.M.G. and the Australian and New Zealand Governments and the Government of Ceylon. Are Australia and New Zealand willing to co-operate in the additional cost? The Government of Ceylon would, of course, benefit but they are small fry.

I said that I thought there would be some considerable revenue in additional postage on commercial mail matter. And that I thought that any project that would bring Australia nearer to Great Britain would have your sympathy and support, but that I did not know your mind on this particular scheme.

He said that he would very much appreciate the opportunity of discussing this and similar matters with Colonel Brinsmead [2] if you thought fit to bring him with you to the Imperial Conference.

He said, I think rightly, that the military flying people did not appreciate the problems or possibilities of commercial flying, and that on the subject of Imperial air communications, it was the Controllers of Civil Aviation who should get together. I said that I would put the suggestion on paper to you that you should bring Brinsmead with you, but that I also realised that you could not bring all your advisers with you.

Brancker's ideas are that the main air line to Australia will eventually be by airship, with 'feeders' by aeroplane. It is a question in his mind whether the airships will go beyond Singapore. He thinks a seaplane route from Darwin to Singapore would be suitable with aeroplane joining Darwin with Sydney or with Western Australian Airways.

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

Casey's correspondence was interrupted by the Imperial Conference of 1926. Bruce left Australia in August and, after the conference in October-November, returned to Australia via Canada and the United States, where he met President Calvin Coolidge.

1 Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff.

2 Lt Col H. C. Brinsmead, Australian Controller of Civil Aviation 1920-33.