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Cablegate: Ninewa: Hajj Flight Inaugurates Mosul's First

VZCZCXRO3923
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3946 3390834
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050834Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4659
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003946

SIPDIS

SECSTATE FOR USAID

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV EAIR EAID IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA: HAJJ FLIGHT INAUGURATES MOSUL'S FIRST
COMMERCIAL PASSENGER AIR TRAFFIC SINCE 1993

This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) message.

1. (U) In Mosul's first commercial passenger flight operation
since 1993, Iraqi Airways Flight 020 departed Mosul Airport
for Baghdad International Airport at 2230 December 2 with
approximately 150 Hajj pilgrims. A second Iraqi Airways
flight departed Mosul Airport December 3 with approximately
150 passengers. More than 2,500 pilgrims are slated to fly
out of and return through Mosul this month.

2. (SBU) The flight of these IAW Boeing 727-200 planes
culminated years of construction, planning, training and
close teamwork among the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority,
Iraqi Airways, local contractors, local and national
politicians, the Provincial Reconstruction Team, 4/1 Brigade
Combat Team, 1 Armored Division, 3 Armored Cavalry Regiment,
25 Infantry Division, and Embassy Baghdad, especially the
Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, the Office of the
Transportation Attache and OPA. The PRT worked closely with
provincial authorities to identify what their priority
projects were and, as a result of that process, allocated USD
3.2 million for the airport terminal renovation, without
which airport operations would not have been possible. In
addition, DOS spent USD 10.3 million on a new air traffic
control tower, runway and approach lighting, and an
instrument landing system for the airport.

3. (U) Both initial groups of pilgrims were scheduled to
transfer in Baghdad to an onward flight to Medina, Saudi
Arabia. Dedicated Iraqi officials showed great initiative in
arranging these Iraqi Airways flights to meet the need to
move pilgrims through Mosul. While the Iraqi officials
continue to utilize this temporary measure, we are also
working as a team to complete arrangements with the GOI's
contracted Hajj air carrier. Chartered Hajj flights non-stop
to Saudi Arabia, which had originally been scheduled to begin
December 1, are expected to begin on December 5.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Ninewa citizens have eagerly awaited the
opening of Hajj flights from Mosul, which not only provide a
safer, more convenient way for pilgrims to travel to Saudi
Arabia, but also have come to symbolize Mosul,s reopening to
the world after years of conflict and isolation. PRT will
continue to work, together with the Office of the
Transportation Attache and our military partners, to support
the inauguration some time in 2008 of regularly scheduled
commercial flights, as well as economic opportunities that
will come with the airport's reopening.
BUTENIS

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