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243 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 105A LONDON, 1 August 1944, 8 p.m.


Addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin.

Post War Civil Aviation. Dominions' Office telegram D.1080. [1]
Although I realise that the policy to be pursued with regard to
Civil Aviation is entirely a matter for the decision of the
Government and falls outside [my] [2] province, I have been so
intimately concerned with all the developments to date that you
will forgive me if I end you for your personal consideration my
thoughts on the subject.

In my view Beaverbrook's suggestion contained in D.1082 [3] should
be strongly opposed. The consideration of the subject of post war
civil aviation, with all of the developments of which you have
been kept fully informed, has shown the desirability of achieving
the maximum degree of international co-operation. At the Anzac
Conference in January, Australia and New Zealand endorsed the
policy of full internationalisation of the great overseas routes.

[4] Owing to the improbability of the United States of America and
United Soviet Socialist Republics accepting the policy of full
internationalisation, the Empire Conference of October last
endorsed the policy of rationalisation of such routes. [5] The
Berle-Beaverbrook conversations [6] in London showed that America
was out for 'free for all' competition in which America believed
she would achieve a domination in post war civil aviation. In view
of this position, McVey put forward his proposals [7] with the
object of bringing home to America the unwisdom of her attitude,
or, if that were impossible, of putting the British Empire in a
position to meet the American threat of civil aviation dominance.

With considerable difficulty, the United Kingdom has been
persuaded to suggest to the Dominions a meeting of Empire
representatives to consider McVey's proposals. Just when this had
been achieved Beaverbrook in America without any consultation with
the Government [8] here has made his proposal for the indefinite
postponement of the United Nations Conference on civil aviation
and for the tabling of individual nations' plans for international
air routes which they would respectively wish to operate. This
appears to me a disastrous course to adopt until the United States
of America has been forced at an international conference to
declare her position. If the United States of America at such
conference will not agree to rationalisation or some reasonable
arrangement for the apportionment of the great international
routes on an equitable basis between the nations concerned, we
should reserve all our rights and make no disclosure of our plans.

If, on the other hand, America at such conference was prepared to
be reasonable and agree to a fair arrangement then there should be
the fullest disclosure of our plans which would be fitted in with
the plans of other nations upon some fair basis of
rationalisation. I do not share Beaverbrook's view that this
question should be postponed until after the United States
presidential election as I believe this controversial question is
more likely to cause Anglo-American friction if postponed than if
faced now. if, however, I am wrong in this and it is desirable
that the issue should be postponed it should be possible to avoid
calling the United Nations Conference until the election is out of
the way.

I would urge the desirability of your giving this matter careful
thought and if you agree with the views I have expressed that you
should send an immediate telegram to the United Kingdom Government
defining your attitude.

Since drafting the above I have been given the following
justification of the line suggested by Beaverbrook which the
Cabinet Committee on post war civil aviation have now endorsed. It
is that the United Kingdom Government feel-
(a) That it is essential to postpone consideration of this matter
until after the presidential election.

(b) That the continuance of the American bilateral conversations
with different nations is most dangerous and may lead to the
establishment of a position where the United States of America
will refuse to co-operate in multilateral United Nations
Conference and will rely on advantages obtained under bilateral

(c) That Beaverbrook's proposal would remove the reason for the
continuance of these bilateral discussions.

(d) That when all the plans for international air routes which the
respective United Nations would wish to operate had been tabled it
will disclose the necessity for rationalisation if chaotic
conditions are not to be created.

With regard to the plans to be tabled, I understand that in spite
of the concluding words of D.1082 which gave a different
impression that the intention is that the plans which it is
contemplated the United Kingdom and Dominions would table would be
of the most general character merely indicating our interest in
every route in respect of which we could have a conceivable

It is frankly admitted that Beaverbrook's proposal is merely a
staving off device and as such must be dodged. If your decision is
to acquiesce in the course the United Kingdom is advocating I
would suggest that your acquiescence should be conditioned upon
the cessation of the American bilateral talks in respect to which
the present position does not appear to me to be at all clear.

1 Document 240.

2 Corrected from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, August 1944.

3 Document 241.

4 See Document 26.

5 See Document 2, note 2.

6 See Document 159 and Document 165, note 3.

7 See Document 177, note 7.

8 A sign here indicated 'mutilated', although the text is
identical to Bruce's copy on the file cited in note 2.

[AA:A989, 43/735/832/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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