The Canadian Embassy to the Department of State


With reference to its aide-mémoire of January 26th23 the Department of State is informed that the Canadian Government has been giving consideration to the intricate problems of postwar international air transport and has tentatively reached the conclusion that the most helpful solution of these problems lies in the adoption of a multilateral air transport convention. There are attached copies of a memorandum outlining the matters which in the view of the Canadian Government might fall within the scope of such a convention.

The Canadian Government would be grateful in return to receive at an early date the preliminary views of the United States Government on the general subject of postwar aviation.

Believing that a discussion of this subject with the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom would be mutually profitable the Canadian Government is prepared to enter into such discussions whenever agreeable to the other two Governments.

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International Air Transport Convention

Such a convention would establish an International Air Transport Authority, give it a constitution and endow it with powers. The Authority would have the normal structure of an international organization: an Assembly representing all the members states and a small executive committee which could be called a Board of Directors. In each region a Regional Council would be set up to deal with matters of regional concern.
The Authority might be charged with the duty of planning and fostering the organization of international air services so as
To make the most effective contribution to the establishment and maintenance of a permanent system of general security,
To meet the needs of the peoples of the world for efficient and economical air transport, and
To ensure that, so far as possible, international air routes and services are divided fairly and equitably between the various member States.
Such a convention would be an agreement between States and would not be concerned with such domestic questions as whether the international air services of the various member States should be Government-owned or privately-owned or whether a State should have more than one Government-owned or privately-owned airline company engaged in international air transport. These are matters of domestic policy which each individual member State ought to decide for itself. They are, therefore, outside the scope of an international convention.
The number of votes which each member State could cast in the International Air Transport Assembly might vary from one to say six depending on its importance in international air transport. The Board, which might consist of twelve members and which would probably be elected by the Assembly, ought to include at least one national of each of the eight member States of chief importance in international air transport.
A company wishing to operate an international air service would make application first to its own Government. The Government, if it approved of the application, would forward it to the appropriate Regional Council. The Regional Council could then hold formal hearings on the application before deciding whether the applicant should receive a license and, if so, under what conditions.
The Regional Council should have power to issue a license entitling a company not only to [Page 372]
Freedom of air transit over the airways of all the member States of the region but also to
The right to land at airports in the region for refuelling, repairs and in emergency,
The right to carry passengers, mails and cargo from the home State to any other member State, and
The right to bring back passengers, mails and cargo to the home State from any other member States.
A State which considered that a decision by a Regional Council was unfair could be given the right to appeal to the Board of Directors and the Board could set aside or modify the decision.
It would probably be found desirable to provide that an application for a license from an airline wishing to operate a service passing over territory under the jurisdiction of two or more Regional Councils should go not to all the Regional Councils concerned but to the Board.
The Authority, acting through either the Board or a Regional Council, should be given power to determine frequencies of service on each route, to allocate quotas between the various member States and to determine rates of carriage for passengers and cargo.
On questions affecting world security the International Air Transport Authority should be made subject to the international security organization which is to be set up by the United Nations. That organization might, in the interests of world security, order the International Air Transport Board to withdraw, suspend or modify a license, take certain measures concerning technical services, operating facilities and bases, or set up one or more operating organizations to operate the air services on certain routes or in certain regions.
Two or more member States might decide that the best way of operating all or some of the air services between them was not by rival companies each carrying a national flag but by a joint organization. The member States should not be prevented from establishing such joint operating organizations. Indeed the Board or a Regional Council might recommend to the member States concerned that they pool the air services on certain routes or in certain regions or constitute joint operating organizations to perform certain air services. A State would have the right to participate in a joint operating organization either through its Government or through an airline company or companies designated by its Government. The companies could, at the sole discretion of the State concerned, be State-owned or partly State-owned or privately-owned.
Services between two contiguous States, such as Canada and the United States, should be excepted from the provisions of the convention and dealt with by agreements between the two States concerned. Contiguous States might, however, by mutual consent, [Page 373] give the International Air Transport Authority jurisdiction over the services between them.
In order that the air regulations throughout the world should be as uniform as possible, an agreed set of regulations could be drawn up by the International Air Transport Assembly and brought into force by each member State. These regulations would cover such matters as air safety, rules of the air, competency of air crew, ground signals, meteorological procedure, navigational aids, communications, airworthiness, national registration and identification of aircraft, carriage of dangerous goods and salvage.
The aircraft licensed by the Board or the Regional Councils would be assured wherever they went in the world of being able to use adequate airports and other ground facilities on payment of reasonable fees and charges. Member States might elect to bear all or a portion of the costs of constructing and maintaining the necessary facilities. If a member State did not so elect, the costs could be advanced by the Board and borne by the Board or apportioned among States using the facilities. The Board might require, in return for advancement of costs, a reasonable share in the supervision of the construction work and in the control of the airports and other facilities. At the request of a member State the Board might itself provide, man and maintain any or all the airports and other facilities which it required on the territory of that State and might impose reasonable fees and charges for their use.
The expenses of the International Air Transport Authority would be borne by the member States in proportion to the number of votes at their disposal in the Assembly, provided that those expenses of a Regional Air Transport Council which were properly chargeable to the States participating in that Council should be borne by those States.
Some time would naturally be required after the coming into force of the convention before the International Air Transport Authority would be in full working order. An Assembly must meet, a Board must be elected, Regional Councils constituted, their rules of procedure agreed upon. Certain temporary arrangements ought therefore to be contemplated to cover the initial period of existence of the Authority. Thus the convention would not terminate the rights of companies now engaged in international air transport but would provide that these companies be given two years to secure licenses from the Authority. Furthermore, airline companies designated in a schedule to the convention would be deemed to possess licenses issued by the Authority to operate routes designated in the schedule and these licenses would remain valid until modified or withdrawn by the Board or the competent Regional Council.
  1. Not printed; but see similar aide-mémoire of the same date to the British Embassy, p. 365.