The Assistant Secretary of State (Clayton)9 to the British Ambassador (Halifax)

Excellency: It will be recalled that the Department’s Aide-Mémoire of May 27, 1942 proposed that neither of our Governments [Page 66] would enter into arrangements in Africa and the Middle East which would exclude the air transport lines of the other, and the Embassy’s reply of July 28, 1942 concurred not only in this proposal but added that such principle should be applicable throughout the world.

Under date of August 31, 1944 Your Excellency’s Government offered a draft agreement10 with the object of implementing the 1942 exchange of correspondence referred to above, to be effective until such time as an international aviation conference might be held. This proposal was acceptable with minor modifications to the United States Government, which on October 2, 1944 submitted a memorandum with a suggested draft exchange of notes11 providing that the aforementioned understanding would be continued until both our Governments became bound by a future international agreement on this subject, or until terminated on sixty days notice.

In a note dated October 19, 1944, this Government referred to the foreign airports which it had constructed or improved in connection with the prosecution of the war, and expressed confidence that the British Government would interpose no objection to the efforts of the United States to obtain general landing rights for its civil aircraft and the right to use suitable airports, including those which this Government has constructed or improved in the Near and Middle East. Your Excellency’s reply of February 16, 1945 merely stated that the British Government recognized that questions relating to the use of airfields were a matter for discussion between the United States Government and the Near and Middle Eastern Governments concerned.

The United States Government naturally proceeded on that basis, and recently proposed the negotiation of bilateral air transport agreements with a number of the Near and Middle Eastern Governments. These draft agreements, which are based on the standard form12 drawn up at the Chicago Aviation Conference, provide for the use of suitable airports on a non-discriminatory basis.

However, since Your Excellency’s note of February 16, 1945 refers exclusively to airfields and refrains from mentioning general landing rights, and in the absence of a reply to the Department’s memorandum of October 2, 1944, the United States Government believes it an opportune time to make inquiry on the overall subject. Specifically, this Government would welcome assurances that the British Government will not oppose the efforts of the United States to acquire landing rights at this time in the Near and Middle East for United States commercial air services.

[Page 67]

Inasmuch as discussions are in progress with several governments in that area, I would be grateful for an early reply.

Accept [etc.]

William L. Clayton
  1. William L. Clayton was Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, p. 163.
  3. Ibid. pp. 164167
  4. The text of the “Standard Form of Agreement for Provisional Air Routes” is printed in Proceedings of the International Civil Aviation Conference, vol. i, pp. 127–129.