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Cablegate: Austrian Airlines Suspends Flights to Iraq

VZCZCXRO0641
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVI #2216 2390955
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270955Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8414
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0143
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS VIENNA 002216

SIPDIS

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE, SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON AU IZ
SUBJECT: AUSTRIAN AIRLINES SUSPENDS FLIGHTS TO IRAQ

REF: A) STOCKHOLM 987 B) 06 Vienna 609

1. (SBU) Austrian Airlines' (AUA) International Relations Manager
Bernadette Strobl-Wirz confirmed to us on August 27 that AUA had
temporarily suspended its regularly-scheduled service to the
northern Iraqi city of Irbil. Strobl-Wirz said that the suspension
was based on a security evaluation following the alleged missile
attack on a Nordic Airways passenger plane departing Sulemaniya on
August 9 (ref A).

2. (U) In an August 26 press statement announcing the suspension,
AUA CEO Alfred Oetsch stressed that the security of passengers and
colleagues remained AUA's top priority. Oetsch added that AUA will
decide whether or not to resume service following a thorough
evaluation of the security situation.

3. (SBU) According to Strobl-Wirz, the Austrian Federal Economic
Chamber, the Kurdish regional government, and Iraq's Ambassador to
Austria have contacted AUA to register their concerns about the
suspension of the Irbil flights. AUA will meet with senior
representatives of the regional government on August 28 to explain
the suspension. Strobl-Wirz promised to inform the Embassy of any
further developments regarding its Irbil route.

4. (SBU) AUA inaugurated regularly-scheduled service to Irbil in
December 2006 (ref B). AUA has since expanded the twice-weekly
Vienna-Irbil service to four flights per week to meet growing
demand. AUA told post that it now uses larger planes - Airbus 320s
- on the route because of the higher volume, but also to increase
range, should a security concern necessitate a diversion to another
airport in the region.

MCCAW

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