177. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (Durfee)1

Dear Mr. Durfee: From time to time this Department has been concerned by the fact that opinions written by Civil Aeronautics Board Examiners appear to indicate that the Examiners are not familiar with the policies and practices of the United States in connection with international air transport matters. It is not the intention of this Department to request the Civil Aeronautics Board to derogate in any way from the independence of thought, or the quasi judicial character of the work, of the Examiners. It is, however, suggested that the Examiners should have some general knowledge of the manner in which the statements made in their reports on international matters may affect the possibility of obtaining the very rights which they propose should be exercised by United States airlines.

It has been noted for example that the Examiners may refer rather strongly to the manner in which the granting of a particular certificate to a United States airline will increase that airline’s ability to compete with certain named foreign airlines. More recently, and most provocatively, the Examiner in the New York-Mexico City Nonstop Service Case repeatedly referred to the ability of the airline recommended for the route to carry fifth freedom traffic from Mexico to Europe. References tending to indicate that the United States is certificating an airline primarily for the purpose of carrying fifth freedom traffic, or that the route for which an airline is certificated is of value primarily because of the ability of the airline to generate fifth freedom traffic on such a route, do not correspond to the United States position under the Bermuda type of agreement that fifth freedom traffic is a secondary type of traffic on routes granted under those agreements.

It has repeatedly been urged by the United States in international negotiations that a route must be justified on the basis of third and fourth freedom traffic and that fifth freedom traffic has a secondary role in justifying a route. For example, the long negotiation with the Netherlands, and much of the ensuing discussion, related to the quantity of fifth freedom traffic involved on the routes under discussion. The countries which have heard the United States arguments of this nature may well doubt the sincerity of those arguments when they read Examiners’ opinions expressing views such as those expressed in the New York-Mexico City case. It [Page 480]may be noted that the Mexican Government did send a note to the United States Government, expressing distrust in the possible designation of a United States airline for the “primary purpose” of carrying traffic from Mexico to Europe.

In order to avoid such an apparent divergence of principle in United States Government agencies, and in fact within the Board itself, it is suggested that the Examiners be thoroughly acquainted with the policies followed by the United States in air transport negotiations. Attention should be drawn specifically to the problems created by over-emphasis on the impact of United States carrier operations on those of foreign carriers and the statement or implication that the carriage of fifth freedom traffic will constitute a major reason for the operations for which United States airlines are certificated.

Sincerely yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Livingston Satterthwaite2
Office of Transport and Communications
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.0094/7–1257. Confidential.
  2. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.