841.796/1–2746: Telegram

The Chairman of the United States Delegation (Baker) to the Secretary of State


For Clayton. Meeting of minds reached with British here on bilateral agreement and final act of conference. Both sides now referring matter home. Texts of draft documents were teletyped to you last night.

Agreements involve British giving way completely from Chicago position on control of frequencies and capacity and on our giving way completely on rate control. On Fifth Freedom, the British have also given way. Since our delegation, including all the CAB members, all believe rate control desirable anyway we believe this arrangement constitutes a real victory.

It includes what we described to Acheson as what we wanted to accomplish. In return for British giving up their control of frequency and prohibition of Fifth Freedom, we offer not only rate control but the right to consult with us at any time when they feel they are being unfairly treated or their operators unfairly hampered.

While the British have reluctantly accepted the principle of the free field and no favor on frequencies and on Fifth Freedom on through routes, we amply indicated in our discussions here that we earnestly desire that there be vigorous and healthy British participation in air transport and the sooner the better. In the consultations referred to in the second sentence above reference will undoubtedly be made to the “whereas” and “it is agreed” clauses in the draft final act of this conference which was teletyped to you last night.

These clauses have been boiled down drastically from what the British wanted and we believe them innocuous from our point of view. [Page 1462] We feel that on frequency control they now offer no succor to the British concept since it has been made abundantly clear that we do not concede that any regulation is necessary to accomplish a close relationship between services offered and public demand.

The Fifth Freedom traffic principles set forth are broad enough to allow an operator to operate satisfactorily and we believe would be violated only if an operator tries to go in for really local services, something which the operators have denied they have any desire to do.

In the draft final act you will notice that the final clause binds the Executive Branch of the US Govt to press upon Congress the granting of power to the CAB over overseas rate making. The delegates, advisers, and consultants are unanimous in favoring this. (This includes Josh Lee18 and all the carriers.) The CAB has recommended it to Congress before now. This is considered desirable not just as a means of working out an agreement with the British, but desirable in any case in view of the overall world aviation picture.

It is, however, essential to this agreement and I presume that it [will?] have Mr. Truman’s backing. The machinery set for rate control both before and after the CAB gets regulatory power has been worked out in detail in the annex to the bilateral. Prior to CAB direct power, it recognizes British sovereign right to prevent operation of a line which charges rates unapproved by their aeronautical authorities but it allows for conference between the aeronautical authorities of the two countries.

After CAB powers are granted, however, the British agree that CAB could let a rate run provisionally until a decision was reached by the aeronautical authorities of the two countries or by PICAO even if the British thought the rate outrageous.

There is throughout both documents a general bend [sic] toward referring to PICAO matters on which the aeronautical authorities of the two nations cannot agree. The delegation believes that to be in line with our country’s general attitude toward a UNO. We are only morally bound to do our best to carry out the recommendations of a PICAO advisory report, however, in the case of rates and it is thought unlikely that rate matters will in fact have to be referred there.

The exact listing of routes in the annex is still being worked out. I believe that Self and Hildred19 are honest in their fears of difficulty in getting these papers approved in London. They will certainly be opposed by certain individuals within the Air Ministry. It also looks from here as if the BOAC representatives were very dissatisfied. I believe it very desirable that Department impress on the British [Page 1463] Embassy in Washington the desirability of an agreement in the light of the overall rather than aviation relationship of the two countries would be very desirable.

Now that the so-called technical experts have had a meeting of the minds and the general relations of our countries call so strongly for working together, we strongly believe this agreement should not be allowed to drag on or die out.

Previous bilateral agreements with other nations have apparently not had to be cleared with the Army and Navy. Due to the importance of this one and the presence of Army and Navy advisers at Bermuda it may be well to talk with Admiral Sherman20 and to Col. Mitchell in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War for Air.21 General Kuter22 has wired his favorable recommendation to Mitchell and the Navy people here are doing the same to Sherman. Self is strongly against signing anywhere but here saying that, if the signing takes place in Washington it will give more ammunition to those who will accuse the British of selling out to us.

We knew what we wanted when we came; we have got it and more; we hope you will grant to delegation the right to sign a final act arid a bilateral Air Transport Agreement (an executive agreement) with annex included; and that this can be done by the latter part of this week.

The opening up of the leased bases to civil operation (on which Hickerson23 has all the information up to last Monday24) and on which we appeared to have reached a satisfactory meeting of the minds, and on which we have now Joint Chiefs of Staff approval, took a turn for the worse with the arrival of a gentleman named Bigg from the Colonial Office early last week. He was apparently piqued by the fact that the British had announced satisfactory progress prior to his arrival and prior to his having a chance to go over the problems. He has caused a reopening of every question and a great deal of rewording of the draft agreement.

As a result, the Committee on bases is in an unsatisfactory state and Self and I will move on it full time tomorrow. I will then give you further details. I hope we can get things in shape to send someone to Washington early in the week with a new draft of agreement to go over with Admiral Sherman for resubmission if necessary to the Joint Chiefs so that we could initial a Heads of Agreement on bases at the same time as signing the other conference documents.

[Page 1464]

There have been a number of other smaller aviation problems between the two countries which have been discussed in subcommittee and understanding on these matters may well be incorporated into the final conference act. The miscellaneous subcommittee report is being teletyped to you today.

  1. Member of Civil Aeronautics Board and member of U.S. Delegation at the Bermuda Conference.
  2. Sir William Hildred, British Delegate at Bermuda Conference.
  3. Vice Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.
  4. W. Stuart Symington, Assistant Secretary of War for Air.
  5. Maj. Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, Commanding General of the Atlantic Division, The Air Transport Command, and Military Adviser to United States Delegation at Bermuda Conference.
  6. John D. Hickerson, Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs and member of U.S. Delegation to Bermuda Conference.
  7. January 21.