101. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency (Wisner) to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (Vandenberg)1


  • Civil Air Transport’s Application for Commercial Rights in Okinawa


GHQ Far East Command Letter AG 095 (22 November 1951) GD/D, dated November 22, 1951, Subject: Civil Air Transport’s Application for Commercial Rights in Okinawa2
It is understood that reference a. has been forwarded by the Department of the Army to the Department of the Air Force for action. The Psychological Warfare Division of the latter Department has informally requested this Agency to make a statement of its interest in the matter.
Civil Air Transport (CAT, Incorporated) is a Chinese flag airline wholly owned by the United States Government and controlled by this Agency. As a commercial airline, Civil Air Transport performs a wide variety of covert services for the Agency throughout the Far East [2 lines not declassified]. It is the single most valuable asset of the CIA in the Far East, without which the Agency would find it impossible either to discharge its operational tasks or to plan the greatly increased activities envisaged under NSC 683 and 10/5.4
[1 paragraph (15 lines) not declassified]
Apart from the U.S. Government’s interest outlined above, there appears to be ample justification for approving Civil Air Transport’s application on strictly commercial grounds. Firstly, whereas under the terms of the Sino-U.S. bilateral agreement a United States carrier is permitted to serve Formosa, the Chinese Government’s designated instrument, Civil Air Transport, by virtue of its aircraft limitations, has been unable to avail itself of rights to serve points in the U.S. territories specified in the route annex of the agreement. Notwithstanding the precise terms of the agreement, it would seem in order, as a matter of [Page 238] comity, to grant the designated airline of China traffic rights to serve an alternate point under United States control which is within the airline’s capabilities to serve. Secondly, the routes flown by Civil Air Transport naturally include Okinawa and it is hardly justifiable that Okinawa, a point in the immediate trading area of Formosa, should be denied the service of the international airline of China. Thirdly, Civil Air Transport is the only airline in the area which has the capacity and the willingness to render low cost cargo and passenger service commensurate with the economy of the area; this factor is expected to attract substantial traffic of U.S. contractors and others on Okinawa employing indigenous personnel. It is not calculated, however, that any appreciable inroad will be made on the business of other competitive airlines inasmuch as the type of traffic which could be carried by Civil Air Transport would not, in any event, be moved by other commercial air carriers. Lastly, it would constitute an economic hardship to the airline in serving its routes from Korea to Thailand to have no traffic rights at Okinawa inasmuch as it would still be necessary to make technical stops at Okinawa for the purpose of fueling.
With reference to the final paragraph of reference a. it should be noted that the Civil Aeronautics Board does not have jurisdiction over civil air operations at Okinawa except where carriers of the United States are involved. This Agency does not desire that the United States Government’s interests in Civil Air Transport be disclosed to the Board at this time; conversely, it is believed that coordination with the Board, without disclosure of United States Government interest might lead to unnecessary delays and possible obstructions by representations of interested United States carriers. It is requested, therefore, that the matter not be coordinated with Civil Aeronautics Board as suggested. The subject has, however, been discussed with Mr. Alexis Johnson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State, who has stated that the Department will interpose no objection to approval of Civil Air Transport’s application.
The Agency considers it a matter of great importance and urgency that the subject application be approved. Failure to obtain such approval will result in the most serious setbacks to the Agency’s operations.
Frank G. Wisner
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 95–G00278R, Box 1, Folder 15. Top Secret. Security Information. Drafted in the Far East Division of OPC on January 11. Sent to Vandenberg through the Joint Subsidiary Plans Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. I, pp. 234292.
  4. Document 90.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.