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The selection of Montréal, Canada as the permanent headquarters of ICAO

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On 6 June 1946, toward the conclusion of the first PICAO Interim Assembly, Montréal, Canada was selected as the permanent headquarters of the Organization, by 27 votes. The other candidate cities at the time obtained respectively:

  • Paris – 9 votes
  • Geneva – 4 votes
  • A to-be-named city in China – 1 vote

The choice of Montréal was formally proposed by Chile and was supported at the Conference by Peru, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia.

Why was Montréal selected? While insisting on the excellent hospitality offered since of the beginnings of the PICAO by the local federal, provincial and municipal authorities, the delegates to the first PICAO Interim Assembly recognized Montréal as a strategic centre with formidable economic, scientific, technical and aeronautical expansion potential. One delegate even noted that the vast spaces of the Canadian territory would offer unlimited possibilities for research and development in the field of aviation.

The Windsor Hall of the Windsor Hotel, Montréal, on 21 May 1946, the first day of the PICAO Assembly, was attended by some 400 people in all from every part of the world. The PICAO Assembly ended on 7 June 1946.

Montréal was elected as the permanent headquarters of ICAO following the first Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) Interim Assembly on 6 June 1946.

There had also been a certain degree of competition displayed between the United Kingdom and the United States regarding the ultimate headquarters of ICAO, with each wanting to become the location of the Organization’s Permanent Seat.

While the negotiations which would lead to the development of the United Nations Charter were still being finalized at this time, one detail already accepted was that the HQ of the fledgling UN would be in New York City.

Consequently, Montréal was further acknowledged as a very suitable compromise location, with Canada being an important member of the British Commonwealth on the one hand, and an important neighbour of the United States on the other. Montréal’s geographic proximity to New York also contributed to its selection.

Today, the city of Montréal is an important international aviation hub. In addition to being home to the permanent seat of ICAO, other related agencies that include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) are headquartered in the city.