Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of Transport and Communications Policy (Barringer)


Subject: Negotiations with Mexico for a Bilateral Air Transport Agreement

Participants: Mr. Charles Murphy, Special Counsel to the President
Mr. Donald A. Hansen, Attorney-Adviser, White House Staff
Mr. Donald W. Nyrop, Chairman, Civil Aeronautics Board
Mr. Thomas Mann, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, Department of State
Mr. J. Paul Barringer, Acting Director, Office of Transport and Communications Policy, Department of State

At a meeting held in Mr. Murphy’s office in the White House at 9:30 a. m. today, Chairman Nyrop and the Department’s representatives outlined to Mr. Murphy and Mr. Hansen briefly the history of past negotiations with Mexico for a bilateral air transport agreement based upon the Latin American Route Decision of 1946, and the current basis for further negotiation recommended by the CAB in a letter dated October 12, 1951 to the State Department. Mr. Nyrop explained the effects of the recent change of position by a series of charts showing the routes authorized by the 1946 Decision, the routes currently operated by carriers of both countries under temporary permits, and the [Page 1504] effect of the changes now proposed by the CAB. These charts and a copy of the October 12 CAB letter were later left with Mr. Murphy. In addition, the following points were made:

The Department and the CAB agree that the negotiating positions now recommended by the CAB be submitted to the President for his approval, inasmuch as the completion of a bilateral agreement incorporating the revised US route requests and proposed concessions would result in a de facto revocation and modification of certain routes and certificates granted US air carriers by Presidential directive in the 1946 Decision.
The conclusion of an agreement based upon the current CAB recommendations would involve a change in US policy to the extent that exclusive rights would be granted to Mexico for Mexican air carriers between points in Mexico and US points of secondary traffic importance. The Department’s representatives expressed the view that both in regard to the change and the proposal for a 1–2 year exclusive on the Mexico City–New Orleans route, other Latin American states should receive equal treatment.
The Department and the CAB agreed that, while the current recommended basis for a new negotiation represented a substantial effort to meet previously stated Mexican positions, was a reasonable offer, and included the ultimate concessions that should be made, it was impossible to predict a favorable reaction from the Mexican Government. The President should be advised that the Department and CAB will make every possible effort to conclude an agreement if he approves the basis of negotiation, but neither is overly optimistic as to the chances of Mexican acceptance of the proposals.
It was suggested that a White House representative, preferably Mr. Murphy himself, accompany the US Delegation to Mexico City for the formal negotiations. The presence of such a direct and personal representative of the Preesident would strengthen the US position by indicating to the Mexican authorities that the US position was fair but final and that there would be no possibility of effective appeal to the President by the President of Mexico for further concessions.

Mr. Murphy appeared to agree that the problem required the President’s personal attention and would undertake to advise Mr. Nyrop in the near future as to the time and manner in which it should be presented to the President. It was suggested that an early decision was desirable, and Mr. Nyrop said it would not be difficult for himself and the Department’s representatives to visit the President in Florida1 if necessary.

Mr. Murphy asked questions regarding the reactions of the various US air carriers concerned. Mr. Nyrop pointed out that American Airlines and Eastern Air Lines had agreed in writing to the modifications that would probably have to be made in their certificates, that from a practical point of view it was not probable that Braniff Airways would object so vigorously as to create serious difficulty. Mr. Mann [Page 1505] expressed the opinion that Braniff might object vigorously. Mr. Murphy also asked whether Pan American’s ownership in the Mexican airline, CMA, might possibly give rise to the intervention of the latter in opposition to an agreement which would involve loss of CMA’s present exclusivity on the route Mexico City–Los Angeles. It was suggested that the Pan American management would be less likely to inspire such opposition at this time than previously. It was generally agreed that no hint of the over-all basis proposed should reach the interested airlines.

While waiting for the meeting with Mr. Murphy, Mr. Nyrop agreed with Messrs. Mann and Barringer that, should the President approve the basis, it would be most desirable to precede the formal negotiation by an informal exploration through appropriate Mexican authorities to ascertain whether or not there existed, in the opinion of the Mexican Government, an actual basis for negotiation. Mr. Nyrop did not feel that such an exploration with General Salinas was desirable, suggesting that a preliminary informal exploration might best be conducted by officials of the American Embassy at Mexico City.

  1. President Truman spent the latter part of November and the early part of December at the Little White House in Key West, Florida.