JULY 11, 1950
HYDE PARK, Monday—I happened to notice in the papers yesterday morning that there is great controversy within the Civil Aeronautics Board, in charge of the regulation of the airlines, over the question of the sale of American Overseas Airline to Pan American. There are only three overseas American lines operating under the management of United States Companies. The American Overseas, the Pan American and the T.W.A.
If Pan American succeeds in buying American Overseas I have heard that T.W.A. says it will not be able to compete against such a strong company as this will become. In other words, the amalgamation of these two companies will eliminate all competition. Pan American has not been standing up too well under competition.
I read a plea made by the pilots and personnel of American Overseas and people they had associated with them. They were ready even to put up some of their hard earned money to buy the company and keep it on a competing basis because they felt this was a well run airline and it was important for the growth of the industry that competition be kept alive. That feeling is typical of Old American doctrine as I know it, but, of course, I can well understand that quite honestly some of the people responsible for American Overseas think that it will be advantageous to have only one company operating. I do not know what the plans are, but it might well be that a few of the best people in American Overseas would remain and try to make this merger one company which would swallow up all other competition except such as might continue where foreign lines are concerned.
I know, or rather I remember, certain passages at various hearings before the Senate in Washington when it seemed evident that some of our Congressional leaders were interested in the success of Pan American, so I suppose there is some pressure surrounding this whole question which is of a personal nature.
It seems unfair that the President of the United States should have to evaluate questions of this kind, and be the one to take the blame from such interests as believe in amalgamation.
But, purely from the human side, if this amalgamation goes through there will be a number of skilled men, pilots, and technicians of various kinds, who will be thrown out of work. This in itself is a consideration at all times, but there is a second consideration at present which seems to me valid. We are living in a world where industries which train people for defense, and even for quick action in quelling aggression in various parts of the world, are very important. Therefore, American Overseas might well be a valuable asset to the government and the people of the United States because, it is an efficiently run airline, and its personnel is well trained and can be used for government purposes if necessary. It seems to me that a business operating along these lines, should not become swallowed up in such a gigantic operation where all competition will come to an end, and where a certain amount of efficiency must be sacrificed together with the competition.