THE first international air services were inaugurated in 1919. Twenty years later the independent states or major colonial possessions which did not have regular air connections with their neighbors could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. A large part of that service is still in active operation, especially in the Western Hemisphere. But it will be enormously expanded and much of it will be remade in the years immediately following the present war. If there is ever to be a fundamental change in the legal and political framework which had gradually developed in the last twenty years the time for it will be when we shift from war to postwar conditions. We must decide now whether change is really desirable and, if so, consider what new forms might be substituted for the old ones.
The basic political features of the air transport situation before the war were as follows:
(1) Each state maintained full sovereign rights in the air space above its territory.
(2) Most states (though by no means all) had adhered to one of the two major international conventions governing air transportation, that of Paris (1919) and that of Havana (1928).
(3) The parties to these conventions undertook to give certain general privileges to the aircraft of other ratifying states; and those which ratified the Paris convention undertook to observe uniform practice in such matters as traffic rules and standards for licensing pilots and aircraft.
(4) In practical application, the conventions created no rights to operate international air transport services.
(5) Such international services were established either as a result of bilateral agreements between governments, or when interested airlines themselves secured concessions to operate into and within foreign territories.
Since 1918 little has been heard of the argument that the air should be free above a certain altitude, in the sense in which the seas are free beyond territorial limits. No one now seriously questions the fact that the full sovereignty of every state extends to the air space above its territory. All international agreements have
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