South Pacific Air Transport Council
When, in 1944, the course of World War II had become evident, the allied nations acted on a strong awareness that an international organisation would be needed for the orderly development of civil aviation. To this end a conference of representatives of allied and neutral states was held in Chicago from 1 November to 7 December.
The Chicago conference produced the now historic Convention on Civil Aviation which replaced the Paris Convention of 1919 and the Havana Convention of 1928 and established a permanent body designed to foster international civil aviation ICAO.
At the first CATC meeting it was proposed to establish a regional council to deal with problems particular to the South Pacific. Following a meeting in Wellington, New Zealand in February March 1946, the South Pacific Air Transport Council (SPATCO) came into existence. The Council was charged with responsibility for coordinating regional services in the South Pacific area, the trans-Tasman service, and the trans-Pacific Trunk Route traversing the region. Membership of SPATCO was open to the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Western Pacific High Commission, with Canada as an Observer. The Australian Minister for Civil Aviation was to hold the position of permanent chairman.
Two Standing Committees were set up to make recommendations on technical matters, viz. a Committee for Air Navigation and Ground Organisation (S.P. CANGO) and a Committee of Meteorologists (S.P. COMET).
The principal problem for the Council was the maintenance and operation of facilities in United Kingdom territory in the South Pacific area required for the trans-Pacific air services. While the Australian, New Zealand and UK governments were responsible for the development of facilities within their own territories, the UK was reluctant to fund the full cost of facilities in the Pacific area. The Australian and New Zealand governments therefore agreed that they would provide the technical services and staff for the whole area.
The first meeting of SPATCO was held in Parliament House, Canberra, from 18 to 20 December 1946. The Hon. A.S Drakeford, MP, Australian Minister for Civil Aviation was elected Chairman of the Committee. The main conclusions of the meeting were:
list of those who represented Australia at the Second Meeting in Canberra in August
1947 reveals some well-known DCA and civil aviation personalities.
Among other agreements, the Council decided to re-equip Tasman Empire Airways with four Solent flying boats, subject to the aircraft meeting specified performance guarantee.
A major decision was to investigate the site of an international airport at Fiji as a stop-over and refuelling point for the trans-Pacific Trunk Route between Australia (or New Zealand) and Honolulu. The airport was at Nadi, about 200 Km from Suva.
third meeting was held at Wellington in November and December 1948, at which Canada
was made a full Member. Click here to see a photo of delegates
to the fourth meeting in Melbourne in May 1950.
important infrastructure services provided by SPATCO in the 1950s were:
The work of SPATCO continued, though on a diminishing scale, until the completion of Nandi International Airport. The 27th Meeting of SPATC in 1980 agreed to disburse its remaining assets to member nations, and to disband the organisation, its purpose well served.
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