The Chargé in the Netherlands ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

No. 112

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 38 of June 28, 1934, relating to the Air Navigation Convention between the United States and the Netherlands dating from an exchange of notes on November 16, 1932, between the Netherlands Legation in Washington and the Department of State. Upon receipt of this instruction a note was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a copy of which is enclosed herewith.22 Some weeks ago, having received no reply, Mr. Emmet personally called the matter to the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has now replied, and a copy and translation of his reply are attached to this despatch.

I should be pleased to have the Department’s instructions before again approaching the Netherlands Government on this subject. It will be seen from the enclosed Note that the Netherlands authorities are not prepared to agree without bargaining and take the position that in granting free aerial traffic over Surinam and Curacao something would be given for which nothing is being received in return.

Obviously they are most anxious to have the Philippines included in the wording of the new Article. As Jonkheer de Graeff says in his Note, the proposed limitation of free operation of Netherlands commercial aircraft in the Philippines is not of theoretical importance. It may be said in this connection that the Netherlands are going in for commercial aviation on a large scale. The success of the Dutch flyers in the London to Melbourne air race has given great encouragement and stimulus to their plans. It is now stated reliably here in The Hague that commercial air routes will be established eventually not only to cover all the trade routes of the Far East but perhaps also in the West Indies. A Dutch plane will fly with Christmas mail to Surinam and Curacao.

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I realize that our various conventions for aerial navigation are based on questions of general policy which cannot very well be departed from in special instances. However, I wish to point out the possibility that the Netherlands authorities might be satisfied, in so far as the Philippines and Hawaiian Islands are concerned, if they were given to understand that they would be allowed to fly commercial airplanes in the Philippines and Hawaii provided they did so along certain defined routes and under the provisions of a strict agreement, such as the one between Pan-American Airways and the Government of Venezuela, which has worked very successfully.

This suggestion is made without any knowledge as to what actually would be the attitude of the Netherlands authorities. I will not discuss the matter with them for the time being and until I receive further instructions from the Department.

Respectfully yours,

Warden McK. Wilson

The Netherland Minister for Foreign Affairs ( De Graeff ) to the American Chargé ( Wilson )

No. 34973

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: With reference to the Note of His Excellency Mr. Emmet, No. 52, of August 3rd, last,23 concerning the eventual modification of the Air Navigation Convention concluded between the Netherlands and the United States of America on November 16, 1932, I have the honor to inform you as follows:

In the first place, Mr. Emmet was good enough to inform me that he has the impression that the American Government’s proposal tending to modify in a limiting sense Article I of the Convention, is considered as being acceptable in principle; probably a misunderstanding here prevails, as thus far the Government has not expressed its opinion on this question.

By virtue of the new text of Article I, proposed in the above-mentioned Note, the Air Navigation Convention would apply to the United States on the one hand, as well as to Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa; on the other, to the Netherlands as well as to Surinam and Curacao. According to this text it follows that your Government is of the opinion that the Philippines, the Islands of Hawaii and the Panama Canal Zone, as well as the Netherland Indies ought to be excluded from the operation of the Convention. The aforesaid Note does not make mention of either Guam or the Aleutian Islands. However, His Excellency Mr. Swenson, in his Note [Page 640] No. 294, of November 22, 1933,24 observed that those territories ought to be considered as prohibited zones, as provided in Article 4 of the Convention, flight over which being subject to previous authorization. In view of the foregoing, I would appreciate your informing me of the American Government’s intention in this respect. I further take the liberty to add that the above-mentioned Note of Mr. Emmet does not contain any reasons which might render the restriction of the operation of the Convention concluded acceptable. On this point, the Government of the United States has merely communicated (see Mr. Swenson’s Note No. 279 of September 20, 193325) that it had opened negotiations with other Powers for the effecting of Air Navigation Conventions, bearing a similar restriction. The American Government perhaps overlooks the fact that the Bill approving the Convention concluded in 1932 has already been voted upon by the “Volksraad” in the Netherland Indies, the result of which is that the Netherland Government, assuming that the latter is disposed to render its cooperation for the proposed amendment, would have to give reasons for the new course of affairs by efficacious arguments. From the foregoing it follows that the Netherland Government would highly appreciate it if the American Government would be willing to inform the latter of the plausible reasons for the proposal tending to limit the operation of the Convention concluded.

However, apart from the foregoing, I am taking the liberty of pointing out that, in general, Her Majesty’s Government has very serious objections to such limitation. According to the proposal of the Government of the United States, the route by the Netherland planes to the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands would be prohibited, the result of which would be that the Netherlands Government would have to follow the same line of conduct, concerning the route to be taken by American airplanes to the Netherland Indies. In fact, this latter prohibition is proposed by your Government. However, this line of conduct is entirely contrary to the efforts of the Netherlands Government, tending to favor, as far as possible, free aerial navigation; for this reason, it collaborated, with so much satisfaction, to the conclusion of the Convention of 1932.

Moreover, these efforts were made clear, especially as regards the Government of the United States, first by the facilities granted to the Company “Pan American Airways” at Surinam and at Curacao, and later by the free traffic accorded in the Kingdom in Europe to American airplanes, pending the coming into force of the Convention subject to ratification by the Netherlands.

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I am anxious to point out to your kind attention that the proposed limitation of the operation of the Convention is by no means of exclusively theoretical importance, in view of the fact that in the future the possibility of aerial traffic between the Netherland Indies and the Philippine Islands is not at all improbable.

However, Her Majesty’s Government does not lose sight of the fact that, if the limitary text of Article I is acceptable to the Netherlands, your Government is disposed to insert a new Article 16 in the Convention.

It goes without saying that the Netherlands Government would not fail to apply the Convention equally to the Netherland Indies as soon as the American Government would act likewise concerning the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands.

As to the Panama Canal Zone, the Government is of the opinion that the latter could eventually be designated as prohibited zone according to the interpretation of Article 4.

Nevertheless, with respect to Article 16 above-mentioned, Mr. Emmet adds the following:

“It is hoped that negotiations may be undertaken in the future for the extension of the Agreement to other territories …”26

I would highly appreciate your informing me in due course as to the intention of your Government in this matter and notably if, in fact, the latter agrees to proceed, as soon as possible, to negotiations on the extension of the Convention to the territories actually excluded.

I avail myself [etc.]

De Graefe
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. ii, p. 623.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Omission indicated in the original note.