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Cablegate: Argentina Civair: Transition From Military to Civilian

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0241/01 0581440
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271440Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0331
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMCSUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC//AWH-10//
RHMCSUU/FAA MIAMI SO IFO23 MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/FAA MIAMI ARTCC MIAMI FL
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6820
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7021
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6720
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1055
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1042
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2245
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB MADRID 2008
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0044

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000241

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE EEB FOR ROBL, REIFMAN, LIMAYE-DAVIS, GUSTAVSON, EMERY
TRANSPORTATION FOR BRIAN HEDBERG
FAA FOR CECILIA CAPESTANY, ANNA SABELLA
FAA MIAMI FOR MAYTE ASHBY, JAY RODRIGUEZ
FOR USMISSION TO ICAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON PGOV ELAB AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA CIVAIR: TRANSITION FROM MILITARY TO CIVILIAN
CONTROL

Reftel: (A) Buenos Aires 64
(B) 07 Buenos Aires 2390
(C) 07 Buenos Aires 2032
(D) 07 Buenos Aires 1629
(E) 07 Buenos Aires 1070
(F) 07 Buenos Aires 1046
(G) 07 Buenos Aires 518

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Almost a year after the creation of the National
Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC), the agency that will assume
responsibility for Argentina's civair once a transition from
military to civilian control occurs, a Director has finally been
named and some institutional reorganization begun. Although these
measures add political weight to the transition process, a true
transition remains years away. Fundamental issues, including the
future status of the largely military workforce now controlling
civair, remain to be substantively addressed. In the meantime,
day-to-day civil aviation remains in military control, and poor
domestic service due to frequent slowdowns and strikes continue. To
its credit, the GOA appears to understand how complex this civair
transition will be, and is not rushing headlong into the process.
END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Where ANAC Fits into GOA's civil aviation structure
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) The newly created civilian National Civil Aviation
Administration (ANAC) is to eventually replace the Ministry of
Defense's Air Regions Command (the GOA's FAA equivalent) overseeing
national aviation safety and air traffic control. ANAC is also
slated to replace the functions of the now-eliminated office of the
Under Secretary of Commercial Air Transport (roughly equivalent to
the DOT's Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International
Affairs) to control licensing, competition, alliances and
codeshares, charters, frequencies, international agreements and
pricing. The eliminated Undersecretariat's functions are now
controlled, ad interim, by the Secretary of Transportation.

3. (SBU) Although the elimination of the Undersecretary's office was
ostensibly done because ANAC will eventually take over these
functions, an open and long-running feud between Secretary of
Transportation Ricardo Jaime and former Undersecretary (U/S) Ricardo
Cirielli was reportedly a factor in the timing. (GOA insiders claim
that former aircraft mechanics union leader Cirielli never accepted
Secretary Jaime's oversight.) Local analysts presume that ANAC will

SIPDIS
fall under the Secretary of Transportation's control, and ANAC's
small staff (inherited from the U/S) has reportedly begun to slowly
wade into commercial aviation issues. However, GOA and private
sector contacts have indicated that they have "no idea" who is now
actually making commercial aviation-related decisions once performed
by the U/S.

------------------------
Top ANAC Officials Named
------------------------

4. (SBU) Political insider Rodolfo Gabrielli was sworn in on January
29 as ANAC's first Director. Gabrielli has a long list of political
jobs under his belt: former Peronist Governor of Mendoza province
(1991-1995), Mendoza minister of economy (1987-1991), national
congressman (1995-1999), Interior Minister under former President
Adolfo Rodgriguez Saa, and president of the state satellite company
ArSat under President Nestor Kirchner. Gabrielli was also one of
several Directors of the national airports regulator, ORSNA
(Gabrielli's only known aviation experience). Observers concur that
Gabrielli's political skills will come in handy as he takes over
(and on) the diverse and conflictive world of Argentine civil

aviation.

5. (SBU) Ms. Alba Thomas Hatti, the Secretary of Transportation's
National Director of Planning and Coordination, was named
Gabrielli's deputy. Thomas Hatti was previously Under Secretary of
Commercial Air Transport, has had frequent contact with the Embassy
and the FAA, and is considered a reliable interlocutor. She
accompanied Transport Secretary Ricardo Jaime on his Washington
December 2006 visit to DOT and FAA.

----------------------
Real Change Years Away
----------------------

6. (SBU) The creation of ANAC and the naming of its Director add
some political and legal weight to the process of establishing
civilian control of Argentine civil aviation. GOA officials
indicate that some smaller agencies within the Air Regions Command
could soon be transferred to ANAC, including some of its
administrative offices and its Aviation Repair Agency. But as one
top GOA aviation official said, ANAC is like "an empty house" that
needs to be filled over time. He and other officials state that the
process remains "years away," and there will be no immediate change
to Argentina's current civil aviation operations. Day-to-day
control of safety, air traffic control, and navigation remain with
the MOD, and commercial concerns stay with the Secretary of
Transportation.

---------------------------
Difficult Issues Unresolved
---------------------------

7. (SBU) The key issues that need to be resolved before a true
military-to-civilian control transition is accomplished are the same
as when ANAC was created almost one year ago (Refs F, G). One issue
is the future status of some 6000 employees in the Air Regions
Command, of which about 80% are military. It is still unclear, once
ANAC is fully functional, whether these CRA employees will be
transferred to other military positions or work for ANAC. If the
latter, it is unclear if they would remain on active duty. If so,
they would be working side-by-side with civilians presumably making
significantly more money, a potential friction. The status of air
traffic controllers is another unresolved issue: currently
prohibited from striking while under military authority, will they
be allowed to strike, in a nation and sector so prone to labor
conflicts? GOA officials and private sector analysts have privately
expressed their concern that the hiring process not be unduly
politicized, and that only qualified personnel, and not the
politically-connected, be hired. Beyond these sensitive issues, the
GOA still needs to enact legislation, aviation regulations, and a
formal budget to formalize ANAC's structure.

8. (SBU) GOA officials indicate that they envision some form of
continued International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) technical
assistance with its transition. Ref D noted that ICAO had provided
the GOA with an options memo of how ANAC might be structured, and
envisioning differing levels of autonomy and authority. GOA
contacts indicate that although they do not view ICAO's expertise
and advice as particularly valuable, the GOA gains credibility by
having ICAO's "official blessing" of any future transition plan.
GOA officials have repeatedly said that ICAO's involvement in no way
precludes the GOA from also later seeking FAA guidance in this
transition.

--------------------------------
Ongoing Civil Aviation Challenges
--------------------------------

9. (SBU) Argentina's civil aviation-related woes continue unabated:
slowdowns, strikes, stolen luggage, overbooking, and poor service
are routine features of flying in Argentina (Refs F, B, A). A
recent report from the Argentine Tourism Association underscored the
problem of delayed and cancelled flights and lost connections. From
March to September 2007, an average of only 22% of domestic flights
arrived and departed on time, compared to about 70% for similar
flights in the United States.

-------
Comment
-------

10. (SBU) Behind these auspicious-sounding GoA announcements, and
almost one year since the ANAC's creation, Argentina today is no
closer to any true military-to-civilian civair transition. Many
here see recent GOA actions as little more than political theater:
amidst Argentina's chronic problems providing reliable domestic air
transport to its citizens, the GOA wants to be seen taking action.
Left unexplained, however, is just how and why civilian control of
this sector will be any more effective than military control. The
fact that the new ANAC Director is a politician and not a
technically competent aviation professional further underscores this
point. To be fair, GOA officials seem to have no illusions how
complex and difficult this process is, and have repeatedly stated
their desire that the transition be effected properly and
methodically.
KELLY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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