Cablegate: Amman-Baghdad Air Service

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) We understand that CPA is planning to reopen
Baghdad International Airport to limited commercial air
service around July 15 and that it is currently analyzing
requests to provide air service in and out of Baghdad. Royal
Jordanian Airlines (RJ) CEO Samer Majali, who recently met
with CPA officials in Baghdad, confirmed to Ambassador Gnehm
June 30 that RJ remains ready to operate a daily
Amman-Baghdad-Amman flight with onward connections to the
United States and Europe as soon as possible. RJ is prepared
at a later point to run two daily flights in and out of BIAP.

2. (SBU) As the private sector, humanitarian agencies, and
the U.S. and foreign governments are realizing, Jordan is the
natural bridge between central Iraq and the outside world.
RJ operated flights to Baghdad with UN approval during the
sanctions era, and most Iraqi and foreign officials,
businesspeople and journalists have become accustomed to
traveling to Iraq via Amman. One reason is that the
practicalities of operating out of Jordan versus the Gulf are
much simpler: Americans and other foreign travelers can
obtain visas at the airport and logistics, such as air
freight, warehousing, and high quality hotel rooms, are less
expensive and in many cases work better here. An indication
of the demand is the several thousands of travelers per day
who spend two days and a night at the border braving the
dangerous road between Amman and Baghdad. Many, such as
truckers, would still travel by road, but many would much
prefer to fly.

3. (SBU) From the point of view of U.S.-Jordan relations
and U.S. regional political and economic objectives,
establishing an air link to Iraq via Jordan would help center
Jordan as the model for open economic policies in the region.
This central role Jordan plays in our regional strategy was
made repeatedly made by Secretary Powell, Ambassador
Zoellick, and other senior U.S. officials during the World
Economic Forum meetings. In addition, helping position
Jordan as a regional air hub could have significant economic
benefits for an country in which we have and are investing
large amounts of economic assistance.

4. (SBU) RJ should be able to satisfy practical
requirements for operating into BIAP. The airline was
approved by TSA last summer to originate direct flights to
the United States from Amman. TSA's annual review of RJ's
security procedures is scheduled for later this month. All
RJ flights carry armed sky marshals. In addition, the
Jordanian Civil Aviation Authority has revised air routes
between Amman and Iraq to avoid the previous need to overfly
Syria. Jordanian radar coverage extends 220 miles from Queen
Alia airport, i.e. approximately 12 minutes flying time into
Iraqi airspace. After that, radar coverage is not fully in
place until the Baghdad area, but flights entering from
eastern Jordan are able to maintain positive VHF radio
contact with controllers. Alternatively, RJ is ready to
overfly southern Iraq (with only a small additional flight
time) until a complete ATC system is in place. The Jordanian
CAA is discussing these issues with the CENTAF ATC cell in

5. (SBU) An incidental benefit of a Baghdad-Amman link
would be to facilitate U.S. Government travel to Iraq. Amman
is served by several major European carriers that have
codeshares with U.S. carriers (Delta, United, Northwest). If
RJ succeeds in its current effort to find a U.S. codeshare
partner, USG travelers would be able to fly non-stop from New
York or Chicago to Amman, with a one-hour onward flight to

6. (SBU) From our perspective, we do not see a downside to
having RJ as one of the foreign airlines able to operate to
Baghdad. The airline and the Jordanians are ready and
willing to do a good job. Approval of RJ's request would
seem to be in the best interests of Iraqis, Jordan and the
United States. If there are downsides, please let us know so
that we can follow-up with the Jordanians.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Myanmar: Military Must Stop Murdering And Jailing Protestors – Bachelet

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday said security forces in Myanmar must “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protestors,” following another day of deadly violence across the country on Wednesday... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>