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passed upon by the Board, and the Board may grant such application and reconsider suck order or other action if it has reason to believe that such order or other action was issued or taken in error. The Board, upon its own initiative, may reconsider the order or other action of such individual or individuals either before or after it has become effective. If upon reconsideration by the Board it shall appear that the order or other action in question is in any respect unjust or unwarranted, the Board shall reverse, change, or modify the same accordingly; otherwise the Board shall affirm such order or other action. The making of such an application for reconsideration shall not excuse any person from complying with or obeying the order or other action or operate to stay or postpone the enforcement thereof unless the Board shall otherwise have provided by rule or order.

H. Repts., 81-1, vol. 3-34

1st Session

No. 563

AIR STAR ROUTES

MAY 11, 1949.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State

of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. HERLONG, from the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service,

submitted the following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 4498

The Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 4498) to amend section 6 of the act of April 15, 1938, to expedite the carriage of mail by granting additional authority to the Postmaster General to award contracts for the transportation of mail by aircraft upon star routes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

STATEMENT

It is the purpose of this bill to remove certain restrictions in the law which authorize the Postmaster General to contract for the transportation of mail of all classes by air in areas where no air-mail service exists and where, because of the nature of the terrain or impracticability or inadequacy of surface transportation, the airplane is the most practical medium for transporting the mail.

The present law limits length of routes to 200 miles between termini, limits the amount which may be paid for such service to 20 cents per mile except for circuitous routes, and limits the number of contracts which may

be awarded to five. This bill removes the restriction as to lengths of such routes, prescribes that the cost be reasonably compatible with the service to be provided, and eliminates the restriction as to number of contracts which may be made.

This legislation was introduced at the request of the Postmaster General. It is substantially the same as the draft submitted by the Postmaster General. There are the following exceptions:

(1) An amendment suggested by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which provides that the Postmaster General shall publish in the Federal Register a description of the proposed air star route with

respect to which bids are to be advertised, has been incorporated in H. R. 4498.

(2) Language has been included in H. R. 4498 to make it entirely clear that the mail to be carried under contracts to be awarded under the bill includes all classes of mail and is not restricted to air mail and air parcel post.

(3) As originally proposed by the Postmaster General, the laws applying to the carrying of mail on star routes with respect to eligible bidders would apply. Hence, bidders would have to live in the county or counties over which the route travels. Because of the unique type of equipment air star routes require, it was the opinion of the committee that bidders on these routes should not be so limited and H. R. 4498 permits bidders to be drawn from the State or adjoining States over which the route travels. The letter of the Postmaster General requesting this legislation follows:

OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER GENERAL,

Washington 25, D. C., March 23, 1949 Hon. SAM RAYBURN,

Speaker of the House of Representatives. DEAR MR. SPEAKER: I am submitting herewith, for consideration by the Congress, a proposed bill to amend and liberalize the law (sec. 6 of the act entitled "An act to provide for experimental air-mail services to further develop safety, efficiency, and economy, and for other purposes"; 39 U. S. C. 470), approved April 15, 1938, which authorizes the Postmaster General to award contracts for the transportation of mail by airplane upon star routes when surface transportation is impracticable. As embodied in section 470 of title 39. United States Code, the law reads as follows:

“Whenever he shall find it to be in the public interest, because of the nature of the terrain and the impracticability of surface transportation, the Postmaster General may award contracts for the transportation of any or all classes of mail by airplane upon star routes not over two hundred airplane-miles in length by direct flight between termini, payment for such service to be made from the appropriation for inland transportation by star routes: Provided, That all laws and regulations not in conflict with this section governing star routes shall be applicable to contracts made under the authority of this section: Provided further, That the base rate of pay which may be allowed in awarding such contracts shali not exceed 20 cents per airplane-mile for a load not exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds of mail, and not exceeding 1 cent per airplane-mile for each twenty pounds of mail carried in excess of the two hundred and fifty-pound limit, except that in the discretion of the Postmaster General a higher base rate of pay may be allowed in awarding contract for carrying mail over circuitous routes of less than seventy-five miles in length: And provided further, That the provisions of sections 463, 469, 469f of this title shall not apply to the transportation of mail under this section: And provided further, That the Postmaster General shall not award more than five contracts for the transportation of mail under the authority of this section."

The provisions of the statute, as presently worded are so restrictive as to render the authority of the Postmaster General, which the Congress obviously intended to convey, practically inoperative:

(a) It, in effect, limits such contracts to cases where surface transportation is virtually impossible.

(6) It limits the length of routes to 200 miles between termini.

(c) It limits the amount which may be paid for such service to 20 cents per mile, except for circuitous routes.

(d) It limits the number of contracts which may be awarded to five. There are a number of areas throughout the United States where the present postal service by surface transportation could be expedited and improved by the use of light aircraft to move all classes of mail. In some of these areas, because of the nature of the terrain, a light aircraft is the most practical vehicle for transporting mail under star-route contracts. Since World War II many small operators of privately owned aircraft have established flying schools and charter-plane service throughout the country. Landing strips for light planes are almost everywhere available. It is believed that such operators would submit reasonable bids for the transportation of mail under star-route contracts.

The certification of air routes under provisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, as amended, is not justified in most of the areas herein considered because, when restricted to air mail bearing the air-mail postage rate, the volume would not be sufficient to warrant the high cost of conventional certified service. On the other hand, if the service were obtained for all classes of mail at a competitive contract rate, the cost might be reasonable and fully warranted. Aside from the greatly improved mail service under contemplation, in some instances the cost of service by light aircraft flying the direct route of the skyways might compare advantageously with the cost of slower surface transportation plying tortuous and circuitous routes.

The limitation of compensation to 20 cents per airplane-mile should be eliminated. This rate, established in 1938, is out of line with present-day costs, and precludes the Postmaster General from availing the postal service of this modern medium of transportation regardless of the postal needs of an area of difficult terrain

The limitation to five on the number of contracts which may be awarded should be eliminated. Doubt has arisen as to the authority of the Postmaster General to award any further contracts under this limitation inasmuch as this limit has already been reached in the periodical readvertisement of a single route. Starroute service by aircraft, if justified at all, should be available wherever required regardless of the number of contracts awarded.

The contract arrangement would be especially advantageous in cases where requirement exists for transportation of mail only, including all classes of mail, by aircraft and where there is little or no requirement for passenger service. In such cases the star-route method of providing mail service by aircraft would have the advantages of economy and flexibility. It could be inaugurated where needed without the costly and involved procedures for certified carriers, and could be discontinued at the discretion of the Postmaster General. In cases where the service required is purely for mail, the contract method might be better for all concerned, where there would be no conflict with or penetration of the functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

The amendment herein proposed would enable the Postmaster General to make full use of the inherent advantages of air transportation wherever the needs of the postal service require, on the basis of bids which would be determined to be reasonable as a prerequisite to award of contract.

The Bureau of the Budget has advised this Department that there would be no objection to the presentation of this proposal to the Congress for its consideration. Sincerely yours,

J. M. DONALDSON,

Postmaster General. The Civil Aeronautics Board has no objection to this legislation.

CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

In compliance with paragraph 2a of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the bill, as introduced, are shown as follows (existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new matter is printed in italics, existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

ACT OF APRIL 15, 1938 [Sec. 6. Whenever he shall find it to be in the public interest, because of the nature of the terrain and the impracticability of surface transportation, the Postmaster General may award contracts for the transportation of any or all classes of mail by airplane upon star routes not over two hundred airplane-miles in length by direct flight between termini, payment for such service to be made from the appropriation for inland transportation by star routes: Provided, That all laws and regulations not in conflict with this section governing star routes shall be applicable to contracts made under the authority of this section: Provided further, That the base rate of pay which may be allowed in awarding such contracts shall not exceed 20 cents per airplane-mile for a load not exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds of mail, and not exceeding 1 cent per airplane-mile for each twenty pounds of mail carried in excess of the two hundred and fifty-pound limit, except

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