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Cablegate: Nigeria: Civil Aviation Round Up

VZCZCXRO2582
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0277 2031420
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211420Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0045
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9730
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0510
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0912
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1340
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC

UNCLAS LAGOS 000277

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO FAA (AHARRIS)
TRANSPORTATION TO KSAMPLE, FAA
STATE PASS TO OPIC
DAKAR PASS TO FAA (MOIRA KEANE)
ROME PASS TO TSA REP JOHN HALINSKI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON EINV NI

SUBJECT: NIGERIA: CIVIL AVIATION ROUND UP

--------------------------------------------- --
Civil Aviation Authorities to Relocate to Abuja
--------------------------------------------- --

1. (U) Summary: Top officials of the Nigerian Civil Aviation
Authority, Federal Airport Authority, and other civil aviation
agencies will relocate to Abuja from Lagos in July 2008. In
addition, the high cost of fuel has caused Delta Airlines to
postpone indefinitely plans to fly from New York to Lagos. Nigerian
Arik Airlines has ambitious plans to wet lease two aircraft for a
Lagos to New York route. End Summary.

2. (U) On June 16, news media reported the ordered relocation by the
Federal Government of all civil aviation authorities to the Abuja.
Dr. Harold DeMurren, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation
Authorities (NCAA), confirmed to EconOff on June 16 that the
announcement is true, and the move will probably begin in early
July. Richard Aisuebeogun, Managing Director of the Federal Airport
Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), told EconOff on June 27 that the July
relocation will include all agencies except FAAN and the Nigerian
Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). FAAN and NAMA's relocation to
Abuja will take place in early 2009. According to sources from
commercial airlines, it is likely that the move will only apply to
the upper echelon in these civil aviation agencies as the bulk of
their operating personnel will remain in Lagos.

-------------------------------
Delta to Change Operation Plans
-------------------------------

3. (U) Robert Bryan, Commercial Manager of Delta Air Lines West
Africa, informed EconOff on June 17 that Delta's plan to commence
New York to Lagos flight service has been delayed indefinitely in
light of rising fuel prices. (Note: Delta initially planned to
launch the New York to Lagos service in February 2008, but then
postponed it to December 2008 because of difficulty in obtaining
approval from the Nigerian Ministry of Transport. End Note) While
Delta Air Lines has made progress toward obtaining the Ministry's
approval, Bryan said the indefinite postponement is entirely
attributable to fuel cost. Bryan also told EconOff that as of
October 28, 2008, Delta's flight from Lagos to Atlanta will change
its departure time from 1145 to 2215 to make it easier for
passengers coming from other destinations in Nigeria to make the
connection.

--------------------------------------------- ------
FAA Team Concludes Inspector Training System Course
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (U) A Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) team concluded training
program on June 27, for approximately 20 NCAA inspectors. The
course, comprised of three weeks of classroom work and a weeklong
implementation drill, focused on tracking and record keeping for
safety inspections. The FAA trainers said the Nigerian participants
showed commitment and good performance.

---------------------------------------------
Arik Plans to Use Wetlease to Fly to the U.S.
---------------------------------------------

5. (U) The Managing Director of Arik Air, one of three Nigerian
airlines (Arik, Bellview, and Virgin) approved by the Department of
Transportation to conduct flights to the United States using
wetleased aircraft, told EconOff on May 5 that Arik plans to
establish a Lagos to New York route by November 2008. Arik has
signed a letter of intent to purchase two new aircraft from an
undisclosed source. Provided the purchase goes through, Arik will
dry lease the new aircraft to an airline from a Category 1 country,
then wetlease it back. According to Delta's Bryan, Bellview is
experiencing difficulty finding a partner that will wetlease it and
aircraft because of its poor accident record. (Note: The GON
temporarily suspended Bellview's operating license in December 2005
after one of its Boeing 737's crashed shortly after takeoff in Abuja
killing all 117 people on board. End Note)

6. (U) This cable was cleared with Embassy Abuja.

Hudson

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