The British Embassy to the Department of State


In the Embassy’s note No. 312 of June 21 it was stated that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom had no intention of opposing the United States Government or any other Government in the acquisition of landing rights for civil aircraft in any country. It has become evident, however, that some misunderstanding exists over the interpretation of the phrase “landing rights”36 and the Foreign Office think it desirable that a comprehensive statement of the present British position in regard to international civil aviation should be given to the Department.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom adhere to the proposals which they put forward at the Chicago Conference. There they readily accepted the proposal that Freedoms 1 and 2 should be freely given and received and they will be ready to extend those Freedoms, under the Transit Agreement,37 to every country which is, or becomes, a party to it.
His Majesty’s Government hoped that Freedoms 3 and 4 might be included in an international convention. While they believed [Page 74] that Freedom 5 would more properly be the subject of bilateral or collateral agreements negotiated between the countries concerned, they were prepared to deal with this privilege also in a multilateral convention, provided that agreement could be reached on the governing conditions.
Those matters on which it proved impossible to reach agreement at Chicago stand referred for further consideration and report by the Council of the Interim Civil Aviation Organization about to be set up at Montreal. It is the earnest desire of His Majesty’s Government that a solution satisfactory to the United States Government, His Majesty’s Government and the other interested Governments may be found.
In the meantime, the only alternative course in the view of His Majesty’s Government is to proceed by way of bilateral agreements for the exchange on equitable terms of the privileges in question. In entering into any such agreements His Majesty’s Government propose to provide for the following matters, which they hope to see incorporated in a multilateral convention:
In order to avoid uneconomic competition and reduce, and ultimately eliminate, subsidies, capacity should be settled and varied by agreement, so as to provide a reasonable equilibrium between the aggregate of services and the amount of traffic offering on a particular route and that capacity should be fairly divided between the countries concerned. His Majesty’s Government also consider that any agreement should contain convenient machinery for the fixing of rates: and should provide for reference of matters in dispute to the arbitration of a well-qualified independent body.
His Majesty’s Government in any agreement would, where appropriate, propose the insertion of a provision on the line of the “United Nations Clause”38 which the United States Delegation in common with other Delegations accepted in principle at the Chicago Conference.
His Majesty’s Government would also, in any agreement, propose to deal with Freedom 5, in so far as it is relevant. In dealing with this Freedom they still consider that the criteria which they propose in the final British plan at Chicago (Conference Document 42939 are the most practical and flexible that have yet been suggested. These criteria were substantially as follows:-
The capacity to which a through airline operator would be entitled in order to carry traffic embarked in or for his own country;
The air transport needs of the area through which he passes judged in relation to public convenience and necessity;
The position of regional and local air transport development;
Economy of through airlines operation.
His Majesty’s Government propose to be guided by the above considerations when concluding agreements with other Governments and to give advice in accordance with these considerations when their advice is sought by other Governments.
In this connection it may be appropriate to draw attention to the second paragraph of the Embassy’s note under reference which sets out the views of His Majesty’s Government on the provision of airports for international services. Since these views are based on the Chicago Agreements it is assumed that they are held equally by the United States Government.
  1. In telegram 274, September 6, 1945, 8 p.m., to Baghdad, the Department stated: “The term landing rights is subject to flexible interpretation. Before the war landing rights generally permitted an airline to pick up and discharge traffic at at least one airport in a given country and in most countries there were no restrictions on such traffic. It may be said that the so-called Five Freedoms drawn up at the Chicago Conference divided the general concept of landing rights into various components, and the Brit have so far endeavored to curtail the broadest interpretation of landing rights by making reservations on the so-called Fifth Freedom.” (711.90G27/8–3045)
  2. The International Air Services Transit Agreement was opened for signature at Chicago on December 7, 1944; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 487, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1693.
  3. For United States proposal in connection with United Nations participation (article XII), see Proceedings of the International Civil Aviation Conference, vol. i, p. 609. The British proposal is printed ibid., pp. 600, 603.
  4. Dated November 29, 1944; for text, see ibid., p. 519.