579.6 PICAO/5–1846

The Acting Secretary of State to Mr. William A.M. Burden, Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Interim Assembly of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization


Sir: In your capacity as Chairman of the United States Delegation to the First Annual Assembly58 of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization, to be held at Montreal, Canada, beginning May 21, 1946, I shall greatly appreciate your communicating to the other members of the Delegation the position to be upheld at this forthcoming meeting.

The position of leadership which this Government holds in the field of international civil aviation, and particularly within PICAO itself, carries with it the obligation to assume a leading role in the proceedings of the Meeting. The attitude of the United States Delegation should constantly demonstrate the sincere desire of this Government for the greatest possible advancement in this field through international collaboration. The members of the Delegation should, individually and collectively, take the initiative in supplying helpful information based on the resources and experience of this country.

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Since the majority of nations did not favor the multilateral Chicago Air Transport Agreement,59 the United States Government, seeing the necessity for a new bilateral approach, took the leadership in attempting to reconcile the major difference at Chicago, namely the opposed positions of the United States and the United Kingdom. This was successfully accomplished through the US–UK Air Transport Agreement concluded at Bermuda, and the pattern was established under which several mutually satisfactory bilateral air transport agreements have already been reached by the two governments with the governments of other nations. Many more such bilateral agreements are in prospect.60

The United States Government believes that further experience with the Bermuda-type of bilateral agreement, and its modification where desirable, are necessary preliminaries to an intelligent discussion of a multilateral agreement. This view represents no change from this Government’s position at Chicago that the multilateral approach will ultimately prove to be the solution to the problem of regulation in international air transport. In fact, this view contemplates the adoption of such multilateral agreement through the merging at an early date of those provisions that experience with the Bermuda-type bilaterals has proved to be desirable for a world-wide agreement.

In the present circumstances, it is the belief of the United States Government that discussion of a multilateral air transport agreement at the forthcoming Assembly of PICAO should be postponed until the next Assembly. Therefore, the United States Delegation, as soon as possible after arriving at Montreal, should ascertain with all possible tact and discretion whether the above view of the general situation coincides with the views of other delegations, particularly those of the British and French. If sufficient unanimity can be developed with regard to this point, the United States Delegation should attempt to have the report of the PICAO Committee on Air Transport referred [Page 1483] back to that Committee without Assembly action. It is recognized that this role is a difficult one, since it is important that the Delegation should not be placed in the position of opposing a multilateral agreement as the desired ultimate objective.

[Here follows discussion relating to certain contingencies that did not arise, other items to be on the conference agenda and certain matters concerning delegation organization and procedure.

The conference was held in Montreal from May 21 to June 7. A report of the U.S. Delegation is found in the Department of State’s central indexed files, File No. 579.6 PICAO/6–746.

The public documentation of the Conference is printed in two sets, a pre-Conference series and a Conference series. The former is published as Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization, First Assembly. May–June 1946. Montreal, 1946, and consists of preparatory documentation drafted for the consideration of the five commissions of the Conference; technically this series consists of five separate publications, corresponding to the five commissions, but frequently these are found on library shelves as one volume. The second or Conference set of documents is published as Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization, Interim Assembly, 3 vols., Montreal, 1946 (I—minutes of plenary meetings, II—committee documents, III—miscellaneous).]

  1. The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization consisted of an Interim Assembly and an Interim Council. The former met annually to act principally upon matters submitted to it by the latter, which was in session almost continuously.
  2. Signed December 7, 1944; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 488, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1701. This Agreement is often referred to as the Agreement of the “Five Freedoms”. For documentation relating to the International Civil Aviation Conference at Chicago, November 1 to December 7, 1944. see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 355.
  3. For a list of bilateral air transport agreements concluded by the United States with 28 countries, in the two-year period from December 1944 (following the Chicago Conference) through December 1946, see article by Joe D. Walstrom, Associate Chief of the Aviation Division, entitled “Bilateral Air Transport Agreements Concluded by the United States”, Department of State Bulletin, December 22, 1946, pp. 1126 ff. Nine of the agreements were based on the “Chicago standard form” agreement (established at the Chicago Conference) and the remainder were patterned after the so-called “Bermuda Principles”. For an explanation of the two types of agreement see ibid., pp. 1127–1129.

    An agreement with Peru should be added to the Walstrom list. It was concluded on December 27, 1946.