The Future of the Skyways

A British View

SYSTEMS of land transport operate largely within the boundaries of single countries; when land transport becomes international it is subject to easy control at frontiers. Ships ply across sea frontiers, and control can be exercised without difficulty at foreign ports. But the airplane flies over national boundaries and from one country into the heart of another. Thus the development of the skyways of the world has created a new international problem, that of the freedom of the air.

The problem is complicated by other factors. The more industrially advanced countries reaped a rich reward from being first in the field with adequate systems of land and sea transport. Other nations, seeing how the opening of shipping lines and railways stimulated trade in the past, and fearing to be left behind again in an important economic development, are anxious to open up foreign trade routes under their own flag in the new field of the air. In addition, nations have in general desired to increase their power by creating a reserve of civil pilots and commercial aircraft which might be useful in wartime.

In discussions of these matters, too little attention often is paid to the basic fact about civil aviation -- namely that it exists to give the traveller and the sender of goods a better service than other transport facilities can give -- service which is quicker, or more advantageous in other ways, and which is not disproportionately expensive. The fundamental question thus is: Can facilities for travel and the transport of goods by air be provided on an ordinary business basis?


Air transport, we must emphasize again, is essentially international in character. This is particularly so in the case of the British Empire, with its widely scattered dominions. Obviously, an enterprise affecting the interests of various nations must be regulated; and equally plainly, regulations which were too severe would stifle its development. What degree of regulation is necessary and how can it best be achieved? Three aspects of

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