Editorial Note

The opening plenary meeting of the Conference was held on the morning of January 15 at Hamilton, Bermuda, at which time Sir Henry Self, Chairman of the British Delegation, was elected Permanent Chairman of the Conference.

At the second plenary meeting in the afternoon the Chairman of the United States Delegation (Baker) set forth the United States view that the Conference faced two major problems: “(a) the degree of control, if any, that should be exercised over rates, and traffic (expressed in terms of capacity, frequency, and Fifth Freedom rights); and (b) the use by Civil Air Transport of U.S. military bases leased in British territory.” (U.S. Delegation Files, Conference Document No. 4) The proposal was made and accepted that these two subjects be examined each in a separate committee of the Conference, and there was set up a Rates and Traffic Committee and a Leased Bases Committee. It was further decided to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with miscellaneous subjects.

Also at the second plenary meeting the United States submitted to the Conference a draft bilateral air transport agreement (U.S. Delegation Files, Conference Document No. 5). The United States Delegation Chairman described the draft as falling into two main parts:

  • “(a) The main part of the agreement which accorded with the Chicago Standard Form and on which it was not expected that much discussion would arise; and
  • “(b) An Annex showing the list of routes in which the United States was interested with a statement of the rights which were sought on each route.” (U.S. Delegation Files, Conference Document No. 4)

By January 26 the Rates and Traffic Committee had reached essential agreement on the questions before it, and prepared for reference to the home governments a draft Final Act and a draft Air Services Agreement with Annex dealing with traffic rights and determination of rates, with a third part relating to routes that had not been made final. (U.S. Delegation Files, Committee Document 1/4)

The Leased Bases Committee began its work by referring to the proposals put forward by the United States Government in the American note of September 8, 1945 and to the British reply of January 2, 1946 (see footnote 13, p. 1455). It was agreed “that the meeting might best proceed by taking the points in the U.K. reply item by item” (U.S. Delegation Files, Committee Document 2/1). By January 21 the committee [Page 1457] had before it the draft of a proposed bases agreement set down by its drafting sub-commitee (U.S. Delegation Files, Committee Document 2/3). Further consideration of the matter was postponed, however, pending the arrival of experts from the British Colonial Office.

The Ad Hoc Committee was charged With the study of “a number of miscellaneous questions which appeared to be appropriate for discussion at the present Conference and also any further questions that might be raised in the course of the deliberations of the Conference or of its Committees, and were referred to [it]” (U.S. Delegation Files, Conference Document No. 18). This included such matters as civil aviation in ex-enemy countries, airfields in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, use of Bahrein Airfield (Persian Gulf), Third and Fourth Freedom rights for United States airlines in Newfoundland, Pan-American and B.O.A.C. services between the United States and Bermuda, airfields in United Kingdom territory built with United States funds, and the subject of bilateral air transport agreements in general as between the two governments and third countries. (U.S. Delegation Files, Conference Document No. 8)

In due course it was decided by mutual agreement between the Chairmen of the two Delegations that with the exception of Minutes of Plenary Sessions no official minutes of the Conference would be kept. It was agreed further that such unofficial minutes as were kept would be neither recorded in the Proceedings of the Conference nor published. These decisions were taken because of the highly complicated and technical nature of the discussions and the lack of adequately trained technical secretaries. The Minutes of Plenary Sessions, the Conference Documents, the Reports of the Committees, and the Proceedings of the Conference are published. The official file of the United States Delegation, which includes the aforementioned public documents, is deposited in the unindexed files of the Department of State, Office Lot File No. 53–D407.