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Historical documents

300 Drakeford to Curtin

Letter CANBERRA, 19 October 1943

Following on Mr. Bruce's cablegram No. 187, dated 13th October
[1], in which is set out a summary of the talks at the recent
conference in London on post-war civil aviation, I have just
received from Air Marshal Williams a signal containing certain
other important details which will, I feel sure, be of interest to

The text of that signal is as follows:-

'1. General: That it is proposed that an international convention
be sought on the general framework drawn up by the technical
subcommittee and that-
(a) an international air transport authority (I.A.T.A.) be set up
with an operational executive and regional panels to administer
that Convention;

(b) that standards decided for aircraft safety, including ground
organisation etc., shall apply to international services, it being
hoped that contracting States will also apply them to internal

(c) sanctions may be applied for non-compliance with the
requirements of the Convention on international service and this
is important;

(d) contracting States undertake to extend to one another-
1. the right of innocent passage;

2. any right to land for emergency refuelling, etc.;

3. the right to disembark passengers, etc., from the aircraft's
own country of origin;

4. the right to embark passengers, etc., for the aircraft's own
country of origin.

This goes beyond anything which was in operation in civil aviation
prior to the war. Probably that requiring most attention is the
right of foreign air lines to pick up passengers, although
K.N.I.L.M. [2] all [sic] enjoyed that privilege in Australia
without restriction on destination. A nation's sovereignty over
its own air is not affected as rights accrue only to nations
subscribing to the Convention.

2. As concerns Australia in particular: it is proposed that the
British Empire Governments develop inter-Empire services and that-
(a) The self-governing parts of the Empire establish and operate
those sections in and adjacent to their own territories. This will
meet Australia's wishes in regard to the exercise of complete
control of her own services, the employment of Australian
personnel, freedom of choice of aircraft, etc., provided that the
organisation entrusted with the operation of the service is not so
tied up financially with one in another part of the Empire as to
allow pressure from that other Government being brought into the

(b) It is suggested that each Government of the Empire submit its
recommendation as to the part of the route it is prepared to

As the route and extent of these inter-Empire services are not yet
defined, Australia now has a free hand to submit any proposal she
may wish. I suggest that it would be opposed to Australia's
prestige and general interests to reduce her pre-war contribution
to inter-Empire routes. It is possible that a route to New
Caledonia or to the Solomons might not finally be considered
international nor internal, but under some such headings as
'Services to contiguous or adjacent countries not competing with
international routes', but I suggest that at this stage all
proposals for services outside the Australian mainland be
submitted. A service to Papua will probably be classed as an
internal one.

It will be realised that proposals from different parts of the
Empire will have to be co-ordinated before the complete Empire
proposal is finalised and that the rates on international services
decided by the operational executive will practically control the
outlay involved (if Government operated) or the subsidy
necessarily paid (if contracted to a private Company) by the
respective Governments on their portion of the international
routes. To this extent the complete control of costs on
international routes by the Government concerned will be modified.

This in general covers the main points as far as they have been
taken. Further progress will involve consideration of each phase
in detail.'
Should any further messages be received from Air Marshal Williams
in this connection I will immediately inform you of their


1 Document 299.

2 Koninklijke Nederlandsch-Indische Luchtvaart Maatschappij (i.e.

Royal Netherlands Indies Airline Company).

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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