The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Panama (Finley)

No. 564

Sir: The Department has received the Legation’s despatch No. 1559 of June 21, 1933, in further relation to the Department’s instruction [Page 638] No. 480 of February 6, 1933, concerning the right of civil aircraft of a country which is a party to the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation to enter territory of another contracting state on special or touring flights, without the necessity of obtaining formal permission for the flight from the government of the country in which the flight is to be made.

The Legation reports that the Governor of the Panama Canal has stated that the American members of the Commercial Aviation Commission have recommended to the President of the Commission (the Secretary of Government and Justice of Panama) that the United States and Panama enter into an agreement in regard to the entry of aircraft under the terms of the Habana Convention.

In taking up this matter with the governments of countries which are parties to the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation, the Department did not contemplate entering into special agreements supplementing the Habana Convention, since such procedure would seem to be unnecessary. The Department merely desired to reach an agreement with respect to the interpretation of the Habana Convention to the effect that the aircraft of a contracting state may enter territory of another contracting state, subject to technical requirements as to entry and clearance and compliance with the regulations in force in the country to be visited, without resorting to the formality of having each flight made the subject of a special request that the government of the country in whose territory the flight is to be made grant special authorization for the flight. The Governments of Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, which are parties to the Convention, have informed the Department that they agree to this interpretation. If it is also agreed to by the Panamanian Government, all that will be necessary will be for the Foreign Office to inform the Legation that it agrees to the same interpretation.

As the Legation is aware, a burden is placed upon the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, and American diplomatic missions in the matter of obtaining permission for American aviators to make flights in foreign countries. An American aviator desiring to make a flight in a foreign country is required to submit the matter to the Department of Commerce and furnish certain data for the consideration of that Department. When the request is acted upon by that Department and referred to the Department of State, it must communicate with American diplomatic missions in the countries over which the flight is to be made in order that they may, in turn, submit the matter to the foreign governments concerned. When the requests for authorizations for flights abroad are handled by telegrams, which is very often the case, the aviators must make a deposit with the Department of State to guarantee the cost of telegrams exchanged [Page 639] between the Department of State and the American diplomatic missions concerned. This procedure not only involves expense and delays to the aviator, but, as stated, imposes a burden upon agencies of this Government in the matter of handling the necessary correspondence required in obtaining permission for the flight. One of the main purposes of air navigation agreements is to do away with this cumbersome procedure.

The Department will be very glad to have the Legation confer again with the Canal Zone authorities and, if they perceive no objection, to submit this matter to the Panamanian Government in order to see whether it agrees to the interpretation of the Habana Convention referred to above.

If the Panamanian Government should care to furnish information as to entry and clearance requirements, and as to any restrictive regulations governing air navigation within the Republic of Panama, the Department would be very glad to receive such data for transmission to the Department of Commerce, and to recommend to that Department that the data be published in the semi-monthly Air Commerce Bulletin issued by the Aeronautics Branch. However, if the data should be lengthy, it seems doubtful if it would be practicable for the Department of Commerce to publish it unless it should be submitted in the form of a summary. The Department of Commerce now publishes summaries of air navigation requirements of foreign countries governing the entrance of American civil aircraft. If a summary of the Panamanian regulations should be furnished, there would be no objection to calling attention to the fact that the data with regard to the entrance of aircraft into Panamanian territory is furnished only in summarized form and that aviators desiring to enter the Republic of Panama are cautioned to comply with all the regulations in force therein pertaining to the navigation of civil aircraft.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Harry F. Payer