THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

1927: Airline companies officially recognized as airmail carriers

 

With the growing needs arising from the rapid development of international postal relations, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) was established on 7 July 1875 to promote the organization and improvement of world postal services in a spirit of international cooperation. The Universal Postal Union Congress is held every five years as the supreme authority of the UPU and brings together diplomats and postal operators from member countries.

 

Souvenir folder distributed by the Japanese Delegation at the Conference

Souvenir folder distributed by the Swiss Delegation at the Conference

The period from 1920 to 1927 was a period of incipient development for air transport. Postal administrations and airlines were still in the dark as to its future possibilities for international airmail. Air services were considered as “extraordinary” ground services under the UPU General Convention governing all international mail. The determination of the rates was left to the administrations using it.

 

At the Stockholm Ordinary Congress of UPU in 1924 (8th Congress), the possibility of using the airplane for the transportation of mail gained momentum. Although the latter agreement had been in existence for only one year, a need for modification was recognized to consider unifying airmail surtaxes demanded of the public and to simplify the method of remunerating the air transport companies.

 

 

USSR – 1927

1st International Aero-

Postal Conference

As the signatory governments were bound by a five-year agreement during which time amendments to the Convention were practically impossible to obtain and, as the use of air transport had become sufficiently widespread, the Post Office of the USSR took the step in March 1927 of formally proposing a special Administrative Conference of UPU (First International Air Post Congress) for the consideration of the technical question of airmail provisions. 

 

Called at the suggestion from the Air Transport Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce Internationale, CCI) and the official initiative of the Postal Office of the USSR, this Conference met in the building of the Upper Chamber (Hall of Senat) at The Hague, Netherlands, from 1 to 10 September 1927; it was attended by seventy-nine representatives of thirty-five members of the UPU; the large participation indicated an awareness of the importance which airmail would have.

 

This Conference resulted in an agreement that established the airline companies as officially recognized carriers of mail at the maximum remuneration of 6 postal gold francs per metric ton-kilogram. It also initiated some significant rules and regulations concerning the acceptance and rapid delivery of airmail by the signatory powers, the expeditious handling of airmail by countries without air services, and the basis of accounting procedures for international airmail. Another provision agreed upon was that the PAR AVION labels should have a blue colour and, when the mail did not actually travel by air, such labels or annotations should be crossed out.

 

The monetary unit employed for all purposes of the UPU machinery was the “Postal Gold Franc” defined by article 31 of the UPU Convention at that time. This is a special unit of currency not employed for any other purpose. The postal gold franc was the equivalent of the French (or Swiss) franc that was in existence prior to World War I and was worth 0.193 United States dollars of the same vintage. Of course, devaluations of virtually all currencies since that time had changed the original equivalents, so that the quotation of one gold franc per ton-kilometre for transportation charges had the equivalent of 0.327 after WWII.

 

9th UPU Congress

London - 1929

The The Hague Conference of 1927 laid down the first airmail provisions, an event of historic importance in view of the fantastic development of that means of transportation in the international post. The UPU London Congress adopted in 1929 with minor changes the Air Mail Regulations that were established by this Conference. These provisions set the general pattern for international airmail arrangements up to the UPU Congress of Paris in 1947.

 

Later, more restricted meetings of countries directly concerned took place in Europe, with the participation of aeronautical authorities (e.g. the European Airmail Conferences held in Brussels, October 1930 and June 1938). The primary concern of these meetings was to take advantage of the speed provided by air transport for the benefit of the mail service between the principal cities.

 

During the Airmail Conference, a special postmark was used to commemorate this occasion and, in the Netherlands, four privately produced postcards were issued to the participants.

 

 

Special postmark issued to commemorate this Conference, reads as follows:

CONFÉRENCE POSTALE LA HAYE 9-IX-1927-19-H

(Also exists in green printing with 5-cent stamp)

 

UPU Postcard – The printed inscription reads as follows:

UPU 1927 CONFÉRENCE POSTALE LA HAYE

 

Service cover prepared by the Netherlands P.T.T. with UPU emblem – The printed inscription reads as follows: UPU 1927 CONFÉRENCE POSTALE LA HAYE

 

First Day Flight cover postmarked on 1 September 1927, sent from Moscow to Paris, France. Bilingual “Air Mail” label in Russian and French. Rate 50k.

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