The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham)
92. On February 26 a meeting was held in the Department of Commerce between American officials and a French aviation mission headed by Senator de la Grange to discuss the possibility of unified action on the part of the Governments of France, the United States and Great Britain in the study of the technical problems involved in the establishment of a transoceanic air transport service. According to Senator de la Grange, this involved a determination of the best route, requiring in this connection a study of meteorological conditions and the availability of the Azores as a landing base, as well as the feasibility of establishing landing places on the ocean, such as seadromes, and the avoidance of competition by pooling the services among the air transport companies of different nationalities using the route. After the French mission had stated the purposes of its visit, Secretary Roper1 explained that while this Government would be glad to consider the proposals of the French mission, it was thought that as the British Government was vitally interested in the matter, it should be consulted as the next step in the proceedings. While the members of the mission were authorized to make a statement to this effect to their Government, it was made plain that we were not asking that the French approach the British Government; on the contrary, it was emphasized that this was a question for determination by the French authorities. No definite commitment was made during the meeting as to the future attitude of this Government pending a possible reference of the matter by the French authorities to the British Government.
During the course of a conversation at the Department April 23d the French Chargé d’Affaires stated that his Government had recently instructed the French Ambassador at London formally to invite the British Government, on behalf of the French and American Governments, to join with them in cooperative measures looking toward the establishment of a transoceanic air service. It was immediately [Page 511] pointed out that such an invitation had never been authorized and the Chargé d’Affaires agreed that he would send off a telegram to his Government correcting the impression that we had in any way authorized the French Government to invite British cooperation on our behalf or in our name. In view of the possible misunderstanding that may have arisen, it is suggested that you bring the foregoing orally to the attention of the competent British authorities. Please repeat to Paris for their information but not to be taken up with the French Government unless approached by the latter.
- Daniel C. Roper, Secretary of Commerce.↩