The Bermuda Plan: World Pattern for Air Transport

Courtesy Reuters

THE Agreement signed at Bermuda on February 11, 1946, between the United States and Great Britain, and subsequent similar agreements with France and Belgium, indicate a major shift in United States policy for the operation and development of air transport. The announcement by the State Department on July 25, 1946, that the United States would withdraw from the Chicago Air Transport Agreement in a year's time was concrete evidence of the changed policy foreshadowed by the "Bermuda plan." The Air Transport Agreement -- to which only the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands and a few other countries had subscribed -- was the product of the sharp disagreement between Great Britain and the United States at the Chicago Air Conference in 1944.[i]

No one questions the importance of this "Bermuda plan." On February 26, 1946, President Truman followed the unusual course of giving out a special statement expressing his satisfaction with it. Official statements in the same tenor were made in both Houses of the British Parliament; and in the House of Lords, on February 28, Lord Swinton, the Conservative ex-Minister of Civil Aviation and Chairman of the British delegation at Chicago, called it "probably the most important civil aviation agreement that this country has entered into." The renunciation of the Air Transport Agreement was preceded by the action of the Assembly of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (the body created by the Chicago Interim Agreement and now functioning at Montreal) in May of this year, postponing consideration of a proposed multilateral international civil aviation agreement which had been prepared after long study by the Council of PICAO. That action also clears the path for the Bermuda Agreement.

The principles on which the Agreement stands are not those for which either Great Britain or the United States contended so bitterly at the Chicago Conference. Admittedly the plan represents a compromise. There are still important differences between the points of view of the two countries in regard to the principles which shall govern commercial air transport, and there seem already

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