Memorandum by Mr. Stephen Latchford of the Treaty Division

A meeting was held in the office of Mr. Moore, May 3, 1935, to discuss the matter of negotiations regarding the possible establishment of a trans-Atlantic air transport service. Those present were:

  • Representing the Department of State:
    • Mr. R. Walton Moore, Assistant Secretary of State;
    • Mr. Richard Southgate;
    • Mr. J. Pierrepont Moffat;
    • Mr. Stephen Latchford.
  • Representing the Pan American Airways:
    • Mr. Juan T. Trippe, President, Pan American Airways;
    • Mr. John C. Cooper, Jr., Vice President, Pan American Airways.

It was explained to Mr. Trippe that the purpose of the meeting was to have him furnish the Department with information in regard to the negotiations being conducted by Pan American Airways and Imperial Airways2 with the Portuguese Government for landing rights in Portuguese territory in connection with the possible establishment of a transoceanic air service, in order to ascertain what bearing, if any, the pending negotiations might have on the proposals made by the members of the recent French air mission to the United States that the United States, Great Britain, and France undertake a study of the feasibility of establishing a transatlantic air route.

At a meeting on February 26, 1935, at the Department of Commerce, between members of an interdepartmental group and members of the French air mission, it was made known to the mission that, while the Government of the United States would be glad to consider the proposals of the mission, it was thought that, as the next step in the [Page 512] proceedings, the French authorities should consult the British Government, but that the Government of the United States did not ask that the French take this step, it being left to the discretion of the French authorities.

The purpose of the meeting with officials of the Pan American Airways on May 3d was to ascertain whether the negotiations now being conducted by Pan American Airways and Imperial Airways with the Portuguese Government would, in effect, have the result of barring the French from any attempt to present their point of view later on, it being contemplated by the French proposals, according to the French air mission, that there might be a possible sharing of the transatlantic route by air transport enterprises of the United States, Great Britain, France, and possibly other countries. It was thought that, should the pending negotiations with the Portuguese Government have the practical effect of barring the French authorities from following up their proposals, as submitted tentatively by the French air mission, it might be embarrassing to the Government of the United States, in view of the willingness of this Government to consider any French proposals, as made known to the French air mission.

Mr. Trippe stated that Pan American Airways and Imperial Airways were not negotiating jointly with the Portuguese Government, but that the two Companies were presenting identic proposals to that Government and that, in associating with Imperial Airways in connection with the possible transatlantic service, Pan American Airways did so with the realization of the fact that the British hold the key to the situation to a great extent, in view of the fact that British territories occupying strategic positions, such as Canada and Bermuda, would have to be made use of in the proposed service. Mr. Trippe said, in this connection, that there is nothing in the proposals under consideration with the Portuguese Government that would prevent that Government from granting landing rights in Portuguese territory to the French or any others in connection with a transatlantic route. He indicated that it would, of course, be necessary in such case for the French or others desiring to use the route to negotiate with any country or countries whose territories they might desire to make use of in addition to Portuguese territory.

Mr. Trippe suggested that it might be helpful to the Department if Pan American Airways should keep the Department fully informed by furnishing copies of any communications relating to possible extensions of their lines abroad. He was informed by the Department’s representatives that this plan would be satisfactory, provided the communications were furnished informally for the Department’s information and without involving any committal or responsibility of the Department. Mr. Trippe stated in this connection that his Company [Page 513] would desire to have the Department regard the information furnished as confidential unless it should have some official character. He was informed that the Department would respect the Company’s wishes in this matter, with the understanding, however, that it might be necessary for the information furnished to be made available for inspection in certain cases such as those in which members of a Congressional investigating committee might seek information. Mr. Trippe stated that it would be satisfactory to his Company to furnish the information under the conditions stipulated by the Department’s representatives.

The arrangement for receiving communications in the manner described above is not to be regarded as applying exclusively to the Pan American Airways but will be applicable, under the same conditions as apply to that company, to any other American air transport company desiring to file communications with the Department of State for its information. This understanding was made known to the officials of the Pan American Airways and was acquiesced in by them.

  1. Imperial Airways, Ltd., the official British air transport company.