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Cablegate: Asecna Evicted From Senegal's Airports - New Policy For

VZCZCXRO1910
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDK #0601/01 1441226
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231226Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0539
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ LONGMONT WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0848
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0724
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFIUU/CDR USTRANSCOM INTEL CELL SCOTT AFB IL
RHMFIUU/CDR USTRANSCOM TCJ2 SCOTT AFB IL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//INR//
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL// SOJ2/HSE//
RHMFIUU/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUZFNAI/NASIC WRIGHT PATTERSON AFB OH//DXOA/TAAO//
RUZFMXI/AMC INTEL CEN SCOTT AFB IL
RHMFIUU/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RULWAAA/USSTRATCOM INTEL DIRECTORATE OFFUTT AFB NE//OP322//
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//HSE//
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//HSE//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DAKAR 000601

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR PM/ISO-PPOPE, AF/W, AF/EPS, EB/TRA, DS/DSS/ATA
DOT FOR OST
BRUSSELS FOR FAA/AEU
ROME FOR TSA/JHALINSKI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON EFIN SG
SUBJECT: ASECNA EVICTED FROM SENEGAL'S AIRPORTS - NEW POLICY FOR
USG?

REFS: A. 07 DAKAR 2376, B. 07 STATE 106799

1. This is an action request for PM/ISO and AF/W; see paras 10-11.

2. Summary: On May 10, following the previous day's announcement
by Minister of Civil Aviation, Farba Senghor, the government of
Senegal (GOS) took over operations of Senegal's airports,
essentially kicking out the regional air navigation services
provider ASECNA (Agency for Navigation Security in Africa and
Madagascar). Senegal created a new National Agency for Airports to
control, manage, and collect all airport fees (except for
overflight) to "feed" the government treasury. This move needs to
be evaluated within the context of the Chicago Convention and may
eliminate the requirement for U.S. military aircraft to pay for
navigation, landing, parking, and other similar fees. ASECNA
authorities in Dakar noted that it is up to individual countries to
decide whether to have ASECNA run its airports or not. However,
they criticized Senegalese officials for rejecting the Dakar
convention on the distribution of airport royalties. Other civil
aviation experts expressed concern about whether the GOS could
competently manage Dakar LLS Airport in a cost effective manner with
such an abrupt change. Senegal continues to propose opting out
completely from ASECNA, including from the Agency's navigation and
radar services, which raises additional future safety concerns. End
summary.

WE WANT OUR NAA
---------------
3. Effective May 10, Senegal took back from ASECNA the management
of its airports and local air traffic control. ASECNA authorities
refused to attend the "signing ceremony" for the transfer of the
airport management due to a last minute change in the draft by
Senegal on the distribution of aeronautic royalties and the location
for dispute settlements between the two parties. Minister Senghor
was not deterred and stated that the government's "decision to
control the management of our airports - which is part of our
national sovereignty - is irrevocable, and it is in perfect
compliance with article 10 of the Convention of Dakar signed in
1974." [Note: The Dakar Convention gives authority to member
countries to decide whether ASECNA will run their airports or not.
Currently Senegal is the 10th out of the eighteen member countries
to manage its own airports. End note.]

4. The Senegalese authorities have established a new National
Agency for Airports to collect fees, manage and upgrade airports
facilities, train local technicians and "feed" the national
treasury. Senghor claimed that Senegal lost as much as CFA 50
billion (USD 119 million) per year due to ASECNA's lack of
transparency and inadequate and inefficient distribution of
resources generated from different fees collected from Senegalese
airports. "We have the ambition to develop and modernize our
airport infrastructure, so we want to know where the money collected
from our airports goes. We are not pulling out from ASECNA now, but
we strongly want to control and manage the resources from our
airports including landing, parking, navigation, and other related
fees," stated Senghor. [Note: As outlined in Ref A, Senegal
originally threatened to quit from ASECNA in November 2007, but
suspended that decision and called for an international audit -
agreed to by ASECNA - before taking a final decision. End note.]

5. All did not go smoothly during the transition. The day
following Minister Senghor's announcement of the withdrawal, several
police/gendarmes were posted around the control tower to screen the
access which was open only to Senegalese technicians. Senghor said,
"we don't need 'foreigners' here we have a competent and dedicated

DAKAR 00000601 002 OF 003


Senegalese to operate our tower and we are strongly committed to pay
their salaries including all the benefits previously paid by
ASECNA." Because it is a regional body, a number of air traffic
controllers who used to work at the Dakar airport were from other
member countries.

6. ASECNA operated Dakar's LLS airport on a commercial basis and
derived all of the airport's operating revenue from the fees it
charged. Other than taxes, ASECNA did not return any revenue to the
Senegalese treasury. In theory, profits were to be reinvested to
upgrade airport facilities and equipment, but Senegalese officials
claimed that ASECNA did not fund any major investment project in
Senegal, and instead used resources collected from Senegalese
airports to support investment in other member countries' airports.

ASECNA DOWNPLAYS SENEGAL'S DECISION
-----------------------------------
7. An official from ASECNA confirmed to Econ staff that "member
countries have the freedom to have ASECNA run their airports or not;
this is not the most important role of ASECNA." He added that a
country's withdrawal of its national infrastructures' management
from ASECNA has not yet impacted significantly on the latter
financial resources, noting that ASECNA's operating budget uses only
4.5 percent of the revenues generated from the fees collected at
airports while the remaining resources are spent on infrastructure
projects within the member countries. He stated that in the past,
Mali and the Central African Republic took back control of their
airports, but difficulties in managing the day-to-day operations
have forced these two countries to again entrust the management of
their airports to ASECNA.

8. Instead of attending the May 10 "signing ceremony," ASECNA
management sent a letter to Senegal's Minister of Foreign Affairs,
criticizing the Senegalese authorities for breaking Articles 3 and 6
of the Dakar Convention in a desire to collect all airport fees,
except for over-flight fees, and to select the court of Dakar for
dispute settlement. [Note: The Dakar Convention grants ASECNA the
collection of overflight, landing and navigation fees and the
selection of an international arbitration body for dispute
settlement. End note.]

9. ASECNA was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Dakar, but
has its main financial operations and its President of the Board of
Directors based in Paris. ASECNA controls airspace of 16 million
square kilometers and manages more than 500,000 aircraft movements
per year. Out of the eighteen member countries, only eight (Benin,
Burkina, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea,
Mali, Niger, and Madagascar) have maintained agreements with ASECNA
to manage and run their airports.

ACTION REQUEST: NEXT STEPS ON THE U.S./SENEGAL CIVIL AVIATION
RELATION
--------------------------------------------- ---------
10. Now that the government of Senegal operates and runs its
airports, they should, in principal, now be considered government,
rather than commercial, facilities. This provides the USG an
opportunity to revisit its civil aviation agreements with Senegal,
and assert stated USG global policy of not paying fees charged to
U.S. state aircraft for air navigation, overflight, landing,
parking, or other fees at government airports, in conformity with
the Chicago convention, and as outlined in Ref B.

11. Post recommends the Department pursue an inter-agency
discussion on this development and advise on how to proceed with
Senegalese authorities if asked to make payments on future airports

DAKAR 00000601 003 OF 003


fees for U.S. state aircraft.

COMMENT
-------
12. With its decision to take control of its airports, Senegal has
the opportunity to improve the security and safety and define clear
lines of authority, responsibility, and communication for civil
aviation in the country. That, however, will require the effective
utilization of revenues from airport services, something that might
prove difficult given Senegal's overall serious budget problems. It
will also be interesting to see if the new National Agency maintains
management of the airport, or if it is offered as a concession.
There are already rumors that the GOS has struck a deal with Dubai
Ports World to gain another lucrative contract in Senegal. USG
agencies should also be prepared to engage with Senegal as it
decides whether or not to opt out of ASECNA's air safety services
for navigation and radar control.

SMITH

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