National Air and Space Museum / Smithsonian Institution Three of the four planes, 1924.

A New Takeoff for International Air Transport

This article is the outgrowth of a series of meetings held at the Council on Foreign Relations, designed to bring together a variety of persons from government, the aviation industry, the traveling public, and the economics and legal professions, to address the problems of international civil aviation. The article reflects many of the ideas developed and suggestions made in the course of those meetings, but responsibility for the conclusions is solely that of the author, and not that of the Council or the members of the discussion group.

Civil aviation-especially international civil aviation-is in deep trouble. Everybody knows this, and everybody who has thought about it has some favorite explanation: excessive expansion and premature conversion to the jumbo jet; the decline in the value of the dollar relative to European currencies; the energy crisis and the high cost of fuel; the worldwide economic slump; excessive growth of charter services; the rigid mechanisms for international rate-making; excessive (or inadequate) subsidies; too much competition, in terms of price or services; arrogant or complacent airline management; discrimination by governments against foreign carriers, especially those of the United States; violation of the basic rules governing international civil aviation; excessive adherence to those rules, and so on. The difference between aviation and, say, textiles, shipping, or nonferrous metals is that aviation directly engages the prestige, the fascination, and the "national interest" of almost all the countries of the world. International aviation is thus not just another problem in a changing international economic system, though it is that; international civil aviation is a serious problem in international relations, affecting the way governments view one another, the way individual citizens view their own and foreign countries, and in a variety of direct and indirect connections the security arrangements by which we live.

Therefore, it is surely time to reexamine the overall structure of international agreements that governs the airlines of the world. Is this structure, created in the context of postwar reconstruction, still adequate, or is a major

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.