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American Airlines: Air is international (1943)

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Air is international

Passenger and cargo planes of many nations will ply the air after the war. That is a certainty!

The problems involved are totally different from any that ever confronted the world because there is only one air… international air!

The necessity immediately to study these problems is forced upon us by the rapid ascendancy of global military aviation. Prior to this war, aviation ranked in 40th place among the industries of the United States. Today it is No. 1.

Four years ago, all of the domestic airlines in the United States operated a total of about only 265 transport planes… and received public patronage for only about half of their capacity. Now, in a single month, we build more than 25 times that number of aircraft.

Before 1939, American pilots made about 33 transatlantic flights. During this one year of 1943, tens of thousands of flights will be made over the Atlantic Ocean alone. Our Army Air Transport Command, and our airlines under the Army’s direction, fly millions of miles daily, over oceans and continents, over jungles and arctic regions.

International air traffic, therefore, is being debated in our Congress and in the British and Canadian Parliaments. The political, economic and social potentials are being pondered by our State Department and by officials of other nations. Our President has appointed an interdepartmental committee to seek answers to the many momentous questions involved.

The regulations evolved by these men, working in co-operation with the Civil Aeronautics Board, with the approval of the President and Congress, will affect every nation.

We cannot escape the consequences any more than we can escape air itself. Because air brings all peoples closer together, these men are making the blueprint for how best for us to to live together.

There is no adequate precedent to guide these architects of our new world. Theirs is a more imperative pioneering job than faced our ancient ancestors when the spericity of the earth was discovered. Past generations took centuries for the transition from the flat world to transportation around the world.

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But the speed of the airplane, its freedom to travel in any direction, over land and water alike, create changes at a rate faster and on a scale vaster than have ever challenged men before. Therefore, our postwar-air committeemen must weigh factors that are as different, both in kind and degree, from elements inherent in land-and-water-transportation, as air itself differs from the earth it surrounds.

The surface of the earth is divided into many “pieces:” oceans, continents, islands and topographical barriers. In contrast, air is all in one “piece.”

Everyone is air-linked by the continuity of air to everyone else on earth. Every country equally is exposed to the constructive use of air and equally is vulnerable to its destructive misuse. Because airplanes travel above the earth, no nation can ensconce itself behind surface boundary lines or buffer states.

While a major obligation is to maintain aerial prowess for our own nation’s protection we must recognize that air is not local, but universal. Inseparably it encompasses all of the earth. Therefore the well-being of all countries is becoming more interdependent in ratio to the speed and volume of air transportation.

There is no better way to insure our nation’s future in the air than to follow the American way. Private enterprise developed our airline industry, making possible the foundation upon which we built our war-expanded aviation – a foundation so firm that quickly we overtook and surpassed the totalitarian nations.

In order that the benefits of postwar commercial use of the air may be available to all peoples, we favor governmentally regulated international airline competition.

Before this war the airlines of the United States led the world. During this war they are measuring up to unprecedented demands both at home and overseas. There is no question as to their ability to continue to do so after the war.

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However, what is more important than the ambition of any one airline is the furtherance of our national welfare, in the new relationship of peoples in our changing world. Therefore the postwar-air program must be predicated upon agreements between nations.

In the final analysis our status in world-air is a matter of individual responsibility. Air-rules cannot make of us an airfaring nation. They can only give us the opportunity, along with other countries, to utilize the air most effectively.

A.N. Kemp
President, American Airlines, Inc.

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