349 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 191 WASHINGTON, 11 March 1941, 9.02 p.m.


Pacific Air Routes As you know the question of our granting landing rights in Australia to Pan American Airways has been the subject of many representations on behalf of Pan American and has frequently been referred to by State Department. According to instructions I have always replied that Australian landing rights are dependent on reciprocal landing rights at Hawaii being granted when requested.

There are signs that our standing fast on this attitude is having the effect of magnifying the whole question and is quite possibly doing us harm in other and more important directions.

Whilst subject as such has not been officially raised with me lately our virtual refusal to reopen the question has been brought into conversation on more important matters by Secretary of State [1] and Sumner Welles [2] and by less senior officials with Watt.

[3] Implication has clearly been that whilst we are seeking very wholehearted American co-operation in certain future eventualities at the same time we steadily refuse to grant landing rights in Australia despite their importance from a defence point of view.

It is not put as bluntly as this but there is no doubt as to the meaning.

Compared with the great issues that are at stake I submit that this matter is relatively trivial and I strongly suggest that in the present emergency it would be wise for the Commonwealth Government to reopen and give favourable consideration to this matter after necessary consultation with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Governments.

New Zealand would no doubt want to ensure the continuance of the Pan American fortnightly call at Auckland. I suggest offering alternate fortnightly landing at Brisbane or Sydney direct from Noumea, i.e., Pan American to continue present fortnightly service to Auckland and to interpolate another service between United States and Australia direct via Noumea, Australia, Auckland on alternate weeks if thought necessary; landing rights in Australia could be limited to definite period after termination of the war, their continuation thereafter being made conditional upon the granting of reciprocal landing rights in Hawaii and California. A generous gesture on our part might in my opinion produce valuable results in other important directions.

In any event we cannot want reciprocal landing rights until after this war. When we emerge successfully from this war I am inclined to believe that America will have no scruples in granting us landing rights in Hawaii and denying them to Japan. In this connection I think it significant that the United States has freely co-operated in facilitating the flight delivery of Catalinas across the Pacific even though this involves entry of Australian airmen into Pearl Harbour. [4]


1 Cordell Hull.

2 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

3 First Secretary at the Legation in Washington.

4 This cablegram was repeated to London for the Prime Minister, R.

G. Menzies, as no. 21.

[AA:A981, AVIATION 36, iii]