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Cablegate: Sag Officials Interest in Open Skies

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 005072

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/EPS AND AF/S/TCRAIG AND KGAITHER
DEPT FOR EB/TRA/AN/CDEMARS, LFAUX-GABLE
TRANSPORTATION FOR SMCERMOTT, KBHATIA, GRETCH
COMMERCE FOR 4510/ITA/IEP/ANESA/OA/JDIEMOND
TREASURY FOR GCHRISTOPULOS, LSTURM, AND AJEWELL
DEPT PASS USTR FOR PCOLEMAN, WJACKSON AND CHAMILTON

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON ETRD SF
SUBJECT: SAG OFFICIALS INTEREST IN OPEN SKIES

REFTEL: PRETORIA 4786

(U) Sensitive But Unclassified. Not for Internet
Distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Econ Minister Counselor and Econoff
gauged interest in a potential Open Skies agreement between
South Africa and the United States in separate meetings with
Commissioner Seboseso Machobane from the South Africa Civil
Aviation Authority (CAA); South African Airways Executive
Manager for International Affairs Oosha Chirkoot and Manager
for International Affairs Darren Hay; and Department of
Transport Director for Aviation Regulation Godfrey Selepe.
The parties said that Africa's immediate priority is to
liberalize air transport within Africa. Selepe suggested
that the United States and South Africa look at a Cargo Open
Skies agreement and incrementally liberalize the passenger
side by removing restrictions such as the existing
limitation on domestic codeshare points. Selepe is
tentatively planning a trip to the United States and Canada
in July 2005 with officials from the Department of
Environment and Tourism, SATourism, and interested airlines.
He said he would welcome formal or informal engagement with
a U.S. team prior to his trip, but said that a ministerial
meeting between Radebe and Mineta before any such engagement
might be most productive. Selepe also listed a number of
stakeholders with an interest in a U.S.-South Africa Open
Skies agreement. END SUMMARY

---------------------
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS
---------------------

2. (SBU) Econ M-C and Econoff met with South African
Airways (SAA) Executive Manager for International Affiars
Oosha Chirkoot and Manager for International Affairs Darren
Hay on November 17. Chirkoot said that from SAA's
perspective, South Africa's first priority is to liberalize
air transport within Africa. She said that SAA would be
interested in opening route schedules and increasing the
number of allowable codeshare points between the United
States and South Africa, however, SAA was not ready for full
Open Skies. Chirkoot said that if South Africa were to
enter into an Open Skies agreement with the United States,
it would be compelled to consider Open Skies agreements with
the U.K. and others. Chirkoot also cited concern for what
an Open Skies agreement might do to South Africa's secondary
carriers.

-----------------------
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
-----------------------

3. (SBU) On November 22, Econ M-C and Econoff were
scheduled to meet with Department of Transport Director
General Wrenelle Stander, but she was replaced at the last
minute by Director of Aviation Regulations Godfrey Selepe.
Selepe, who attended the Montreal meeting between Secretary
Mineta and Minister Radebe, said that it's "not a matter of
if, but how we go about liberalization." He said that South
Africa is pursuing a "managed liberalization" approach to
opening its skies. Selepe expressed disappointment that the
U.S. negotiating team in 2000 had little flexibility to
negotiate anything other than an Open Skies agreement. He
suggested that the United States and South Africa look at a
Cargo Open Skies agreement and incrementally liberalize the
passenger side by removing restrictions such as the existing
limitation on domestic codeshare points. Selepe expressed
skepticism about arguments for expanded air services to
support growth in tourism. He argued that airline passenger
figures did not support the high growth figures cited by
tourism officials. He acknowledged, however, that a more
liberal agreement would provide airlines with greater
operational control in the context of an expanding or
contracting economy.

4. (SBU) Selepe is tentatively planning a trip to the
United States and Canada in July with officials from the
Department of Environment and Tourism, SATourism, and
interested airlines. He said he would welcome formal or
informal engagement with a U.S. team prior to his trip, but
said that a ministerial meeting between Radebe and Mineta
before any such engagement might be most productive. (NOTE:
Selepe referred to his negotiating team as "young and
inexperienced.")

5. (SBU) According to Selepe, the following groups would
have a stake in an Open Skies agreement between South Africa
and the United States: Department of Environment and
Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade
& Industry, CAA, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA),
SATourism, SAA and other interested airlines, and possibly
the Department of Public Enterprises.

------------------------
CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY
------------------------

6. (SBU) In September, Minister Counselor for Economic
Affairs and Econoff met with Commissioner Seboseso Machobane
of South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Machobane
said that bilateral agreements are mostly dealt with at the
Department of Transport. He suggested that it might be more
productive to approach higher rather than lower level
officials to discuss an Open Skies agreement. Machobane,
educated in the United States, appeared receptive to the
concept of an Open Skies agreement with the United States,
but noted that South Africa's immediate priority is to
liberalize aviation regulations with its African neighbors
as expressed in the Yamoussoukro Decision.

FRAZER

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