Skip to main content

Historical documents

2 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram D1 LONDON, 2 January 1944, 3.55 p.m.


My telegram of 31st December, D.1214. [1]

Following estimation as at end of November has been received from

His Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador, Washington of the

official United States attitude towards post-war civil air

transport. Begins:-

1. The following estimation of the official American attitude to

wards post-war civil air transport is necessarily a statement of

opinion. It represents the position as we see it at the moment but

American views are still fluid.

2. It would seem that American aims in the field of post-war civil

air transport may be:

(a) The establishment of at least one American round the world air

service plus commercial air entry into all major nations. A route

across Russia might perhaps be regarded as a better proposition

than one alongside a British route via India.

(b) The right to operate air services in the Middle East and

Africa with at least partial cabotage.

(c) Unrestricted civil air transit rights (implying rights of

innocent passage and of landing for non-traffic purposes) with

some additional rights in Canada (to Alaska), Newfoundland,

Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Bermuda, West Indies, Guiana and the

Irish Free State to be obtained in exchange for transit rights in

America, the Pacific Islands and Alaska while keeping South

America and the Pacific as much as possible for the Americans.

(d) A permanent agreement embodying the above rights.

3. It is probable that Americans would dislike agreements between

any two or more countries which discriminate against third parties

except perhaps present enemies. They fear that in the absence of

international agreement the United Kingdom and the dominions may

be driven back on to an 'all red' policy which would hamper

American air line development abroad.

4. Internal political considerations are likely to make it

essential for the Americans to obtain a form of agreement which

will satisfy public opinion that reasonable use of airfields

constructed by them overseas has been secured. Some sort of

international control might be regarded as a satisfactory


5. Although at first sight these aims may appear formidable the

Americans recognise that there are also legitimate British aims

which must be met, for example transit rights across America, the

Pacific Islands and Alaska.

6. There seems no reason to suppose that the Americans would

reject the first two of the 'Four Freedoms' adopted by the

Commonwealth Conference in London [2], viz. the right of innocent

passage and the right to land for non-traffic purposes, since

these are essential to accomplish American aims. It is thought

that the last two, viz. the right to land passengers from the

country of origin and the right to pick up passengers for the

country of origin, might be acceptable subject to agreement on

regulation and provisions for special variations or arrangements

affecting contiguous countries, for example Canada and America. It

is observed that freight and mails are not specifically referred

to in the last two freedoms but the Americans would probably

consider that they would have to be included in the scope of any

satisfactory international agreement.

7. The Americans might agree that carriage of passengers by

country A between countries B and C should be subject to

negotiations between countries concerned.

8. As regards the right to carry between two points in one

country, not the country of origin, the Americans would be

unwilling to concede cabotage within United States and are

unlikely to grant it between United States territories. On the

other hand, despite what Mr. Berle has said, they might try to

obtain it for themselves elsewhere; for example within and between

British territories in Africa. They will be reluctant to recognise

the British Commonwealth as a unit for this purpose because they

realize their lack of bargaining powers in the cabotage field.

They may therefore try to avoid discussing it until other

controversial points have been settled.

9. The Americans recognise the need for an international technical

authority to replace the International Commission on air

navigation. They might also suggest placing finance and operation

of airfields in hazardous or undeveloped territories such as

Greenland, Iceland and Liberia on an international basis.

10. As regards an operating executive the Americans would probably

agree but it is probable that the State Department and Civil

Aeronautics Department would want to exercise close control of

American representatives. It is not possible to say what form of

executive they would favour pending clarification of their own

policy as regards a 'chosen instrument' although it seems likely

they will retain a free commercial basis. On the relationship of

this international authority to any United Nations security

organization which may be established no opinion can be given.

11. The proposal for international zones of operation is unlikely

to appeal to the Americans. They might agree as regards Europe but

the problem of international operation in the Middle and Far East

seems likely to raise difficult issues. American views on this can

only be elicited by direct discussion. Counter proposals to make

Latin America exclusively [an] [3] American field might be put


12. The above seems to show that the argument will be tough but

that in spite of divergencies a basis for agreement upon

principles might be found.

1 On file AA:A989, 43/735/833/1. It outlined U.S. aviation

interests in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and stressed

U.K. wishes for informal discussion on civil aviation issues with

the State Department.

2 Informal talks on civil aviation held in October 1943 (see

Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI, Documents

299-300 and 316).

3 The word in square brackets has been corrected from the

Dominions Office copy in NLA: DO35/1111. Dominions. Original

Correspondence. 2 January 944 (AJCP Reel PRO 5606).

[AA:A989, 43/735/833/1]

Last Updated: 2 February 2011
Back to top