[Page 593]

165. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Irish Airlines: Termination of Landing Rights at New York

There has long been a serious imbalance in our civil air transport agreement with Ireland. Our airline service rights are limited to Shannon, whereas Irish Airlines flies to New York, Boston and Chicago. As of last year, our lines (PAA and TWA)2 obtained only some 23% of the Ireland-US traffic. To correct this imbalance, we have been trying to get the Irish to grant us traffic rights to Dublin, and during the course of these twelve years of fruitless attempts, we have progressively softened the terms of our request. But, the Irish have been unmoved.

For the past couple of years, there has been general agreement in Washington that the only hope of bringing the Irish around would be to terminate Irish landing rights at New York, leaving intact their landing rights to Boston and Chicago. Such partial termination, subject to one year’s notice is permissible under the terms of our bilateral air agreement. After Ambassador Moore’s arrival in Dublin,3 another attempt was made to secure a favorable response from the Irish, but the Irish Cabinet earlier this year decided negatively.

From the viewpoint of our international aviation interests, there seems to be common agreement that we should proceed as soon as feasible to assert equity under the bilateral agreement. This would demonstrate our resolve to obtain for US carriers a fair and equal opportunity to compete, and to take action where US carrier operations are restricted in violation of the principle of reciprocity. Moreover, our action would come at a time when the US carriers are going through a very difficult financial period. The Secretary of Transportation, the CAB and industry representatives strongly support such action to rectify the situation.

Ambassador Moore recommends against giving notice of intention to terminate the Irish Airlines service to New York. He continues to believe that the Irish can be persuaded through negotiation, and has recommended another diplomatic approach. He acknowledges, how[Page 594]ever, that if the decision is made to terminate, now is as good or as bad a time as any. Secretary Rogers considers that simply another diplomatic approach would not be successful. He recommends that State be authorized to give notice, after consultations with Congress, to the Irish Government of the termination of Irish Airline rights at New York, effective one year after delivery of the notice (Tab A).4

The serving of a termination notice on the Irish Government will obviously not serve to maintain the warmth in our general bilateral relations (though the Dublin tourist industry would favor it). Nevertheless, given the serious aviation service imbalance which harms our industry and the long history of our genuine attempts to negotiation of this issue, the time has probably arrived to bite the bullet. I suspect, however, that once the Irish know that we definitely will terminate within a year, they will be more willing to negotiate, and the actual termination may never take place.

Peter Flanigan concurs in this memorandum.

Recommendation

That you authorize the notification to the Irish Government that Irish landing rights in New York will be terminated effective one year subsequent.5

That State be instructed that the notification should not be delivered until after (a) consultations with the Congress indicate no serious objection to this course, and (b) that Irish Prime Minister Lynch be advised privately in advance of our intended action, and that (c) our notice of termination be coupled with an indication of willingness to negotiate.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 694, Country Files—Europe, Ireland. Confidential. Sent for action. A stamped notation reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Pan American Airlines and Trans World Airways.
  3. Ambassador John D.J. Moore presented his credentials on June 23, 1969.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The President wrote “No” on the Disapprove line.
  6. The President wrote “Yes” on the Approve line. Instructions implementing his decisions were sent to the Department of State in a January 12 memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 694,Country Files—Europe, Ireland)