The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spam (Armour)
Washington, February 23, 1945—7 p.m.
344. For George. Reference your telegram 401 of February 21.16 The Department, ATC, and War Department have approved the following views:
- It is not desired that all traffic from North America to Europe and return which might fly over Portuguese territory should be forced to stop at Lisbon since it is conceivable that this traffic may terminate at other points. Consequently, authorization to overfly Portugal without a stop at Lisbon is desired but overflight rights are not considered definitely essential if they would jeopardize consummation of the agreement. It is agreeable that we should not load or discharge cargo or passengers at Lisbon without the consent of the Portuguese Government. The payment of a nominal landing fee is satisfactory [Page 442] so long as the charges are reasonable. Although all aircraft will be unarmed, the crews will be in uniform and as long as there is a definite understanding that they are actually military, no objection would be voiced to subsidiary 4 of paragraph 1. You should remind Portuguese that many of the passengers will be in uniform but can be confined to the airfield limits.
- We cannot accept the apparent Portuguese wish to limit Santa Maria traffic. Our agreement with Portugal provides for unrestricted use and control of Santa Maria airport. We, therefore, must insist upon the separation of this problem from the issues involved in flying over Portugal. As a solution, Department is agreeable to the Portuguese, if they so desire, considering our regular use of Santa Maria as “in the emergency cases considered in the existing agreement” provided no prohibition or limitation of our rights of user in Santa Maria is incorporated in the written agreement. Further to aid you, within your discretion you might point out advantages to Portugal of having frequent schedules operating into Lisbon, reminding them that flights can be routed directly from Azores to Madrid without greatly increasing flight distance or sent from Azores to Paris nonstop.
- It must be recognized that any service by ATC cannot be inaugurated until facilities and improvements necessary for our operation are completed. It is doubtful that Portuguese have either facilities, equipment, or personnel with which to effect immediate improvement of the airport and installation of communications to permit early institution of service. Although the Portuguese may expect our support and the Department is willing to recommend allocation of the required construction machinery and equipment, details as to its source, manner of its shipment and immediate availability inevitably will cause delay. You should endeavor to obtain permission for military personnel in civilian clothes who might be considered the specialized technical personnel to undertake necessary construction and installation of facilities.
- Apparently Portuguese recognize their limitations and are seeking to effect some cover arrangement to accomplish installation and operation of communications and weather facilities. It is suggested that their national position can be preserved by organizing Portuguese company which will contract with AAF17 for installation and operation of these facilities with specialized technical personnel. Portuguese communications services have been notoriously inefficient, and to insure safe operation ATC must insist upon expeditious and accurate communications services. In any event ATC must have [Page 443] operational control of the facilities and must be responsible for code security.
- We agree that all spare parts and all material generally inherent to aircraft operation will not be for national use and can remain in customs bond. However, it should be pointed out that this arrangement can become very onerous in practice. It is assumed that we will have cooperation of Portuguese officials to permit withdrawals for 24–hour operation.
- It is assumed that the special system of police formalities at the airport will be comparable to the arrangement with the Spanish.18 Provisions respecting transit traffic are acceptable, but likewise should be similar to Spanish arrangement.
- Air Transport Command must maintain operational control over its own ground crews. There is no apparent objection to having them come under the general disciplinary rules of the airport so long as this does not hinder our operation.
- It is suggested that termination date of agreement should be stated in terms comparable to Article III of the agreement for construction and use and control of the airport on the Island of Santa Maria:19 “This agreement shall terminate within 6 months after the termination of hostilities or the signature of an armistice with powers with which the United States is at present at war in the Far East”. If Portuguese insist on 30 June 1946 termination date you should make it clear that ATC must effectively control and transmit its communications until their need for operations ceases. You should take into consideration evacuation and redeployment in this regard. This may or may not be the same time as the cessation of hostilities in Europe or a signed armistice with Germany. It should be mentioned to the Portuguese that redeployment is directly related to operations in the Far East.