The Acting Director of the Office of Transport and Communications Policy (Barringer) to the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (Nyrop)


My Dear Mr. Nyrop: The receipt is acknowledged of your letter of October 12, 1951,1 setting forth the Board’s views relative to the [Page 1502] basis upon which this Government might again negotiate with Mexico for an air transport agreement.

Your letter was carefully studied by the several officers of the Department concerned. The Department concurs with the Board that the prospects for the conclusion of an air transport agreement appear to be somewhat more favorable now than they have been in the past; and shares the desire of the Board to proceed with negotiations as soon as possible. An analysis of the background and the past history of United States-Mexican civil aviation relations leads the Department to the conclusion that before arrangements are made for negotiations in Mexico, as requested in your letter, the following questions should be subjected to further consideration by the Board and by the Department.

(1) It appears to the Department that the basis suggested by the Board relative to the route exchange does not meet what Mexico has heretofore indicated to be its minimum requirements. Does the Board have information which would lead it to believe that this basis will possibly be acceptable to Mexico?

(2) The Department should like further to explore with the Board the policy implications of granting an even limited monopoly to a foreign carrier on a route or route segment. The Department is aware of the fact that from the economic point of view, the grant of a one or two year monopoly for a Mexican carrier to operate the Mexico City–New Orleans route would not be harmful to the interests of United States carriers because of the relatively low traffic between these points. Indeed, it could be argued persuasively that such an arrangement, even if acceptable to Mexico, would be advantageous to the United States since, in exchange for an exclusive right of doubtful economic value to Mexico, the United States is spared from granting to Mexico fully reciprocal long-haul routes from and to high-density traffic-generating points in the United States (New York, Washington, possibly Chicago). It could also be argued that the grant of an exclusive right, temporary or permanent, would not establish an undesirable precedent or involve a change of policy because of the unusual geographical situation, similar only to that existing with Canada, of a long contiguous border. The Department has serious doubts that this argument could be sustained with other nations, particularly those in the Western Hemisphere, especially when applied to the comparatively long over-water route contemplated between Mexico City and New Orleans. Should the United States be prepared to consider similar treatment for other countries, including Venezuela?

(3) The Department is concerned over the initiation of negotiations on the basis of a position which contemplates setting aside permanent certificates currently held by U.S. carriers, previously granted by the Board, with the President’s approval, in the Latin American Route [Page 1503] Decision of 1946. As was indicated in our letter of June 5, 1951, the Department suggests that it would not be prudent to engage in negotiations with the Mexican Government until the President has indicated whether he approves of the proposed modification of the Latin American Route Decision. What procedures, if any, does the Board consider necessary to enable it to modify or cancel rights given certain American carriers under the Latin American Route Decision?2

Officers of the Department are prepared to discuss this problem with you at your convenience.

Sincerely yours,

J. Paul Barringer
  1. Supra.
  2. In a letter dated November 6, 1951, the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (Nyrop) answered these queries by stating that because of the “generally more favorable atmosphere during recent months” the Board had concluded that a new effort to reach an agreement should be made, that the concession contemplated was necessary and the Board did not regard it as establishing a precedent, and that the President had recently requested that the negotiations be expedited. (611.1294/11–651)