Cablegate: Civair: Dgac Response to U.S. Carrier Operations In

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

REF: A) STATE 270779


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: While remaining firm in their request to
eight U.S. carriers, operating under FAR 135 (commuter and
on-demand operations) in French Caribbean territories to
supply documentation supporting their requests for
"revalidation of any non-scheduled flight authorizations,"
French aviation officials have expressed their willingness
to work with the U.S. carriers to try to avoid any
interruption in service. Indeed they have already reviewed
and issued licenses to at least one of the carriers that had
quickly moved to pull together the required paperwork.
Nevertheless, the officials insist that U.S. carriers
operating in the area make a good faith effort in producing
the requested documentation. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On 7 December, Econ Chief was contacted by
representatives of Air Culebra, who alerted him to
"ridiculous" demands which were being put on the carrier by
representatives of the DGAC (French Civil Aviation
Authority). According to a letter to the operators from
DGAC regional office for the French Antilles and French
Guyana, "following numerous incidents and accidents
involving FAR 135 operators, the French Civil Aviation
Authority (DGAC) has decided to set up an a priori control
of these operators...compliance with ICAO Annex 6 part 1
will be checked before issuing or revalidating any non-
scheduled flight authorization."

3. (SBU) The Air Culebra rep said his carrier and other
"FAR 135 operators" were being singled out for these demands
in response to the FAA's refusal to re-license a French
carrier based in St. Barthelemy earlier in 2004. The Air
Culebra rep subsequently sent a copy of the communication he
had received from DGAC rep Franck Chong-Wa, based in Pointe-
a-Pitre, Martinique, and telephoned on 8 December (and
several times thereafter) to press for Embassy intervention
with DGAC. On 9 December, Econ Chief discussed the issue
with Embassy Paris FAA representative who in turn started a
dialogue with appropriate organizations within the FAA
Washington D.C. and regional offices. Econ Chief counseled
the Air Culebra reps to contact the FAA regional office in
Atlanta, which has responsibility for the FAR 135 operators
in the Caribbean, and make their concerns known. He also
worked with Embassy Paris FAA rep to confirm that the DGAC's
demands were consistent with the U.S.-France aviation
agreement and to see whether French officials would agree to
try to avoid an interruption in service.

4. (SBU) In response to the series of calls from Air
Culebra and to refs. A and B, Embassy FAA rep contacted
Maxime Coffin, DGAC, Head of Service, Technical Regulations,
Safety Oversight, and Crew Training and Luc Lapene, DGAC,
Deputy Head of Multilateral Affairs. As a result of several
exchanges with the DGAC officials, Embassy FAA rep learned
from Coffin that Jean Marc Sansovini, DGAC, Regional
Director of the French Antilles and Guyana, (based in
Martinique) was aware of the Air Culebra case. Coffin
reported that Sansovini promised to do whatever he could to
try to ensure that the companies would not be "penalized" by
being forced to interrupt their service. Nevertheless,
Coffin added, the companies concerned needed to demonstrate
that they were attempting to comply with the DGAC's requests
for information. The DGAC indicated that another 135
carrier in receipt of the DGAC letter had already submitted
their documentation with a review time of approximately one
month. DGAC could not provide a specific timetable for
DGAC's investigation for each operator, but again emphasized
that they would conduct their review in such a manner so as
to not penalize the operator's service.

5. (SBU) On 23 and 27 December, Econ Chief telephoned Air
Culebra's offices to speak with the rep that had insisted on
Embassy intervention. On both occasions there was no
response and Econ Chief left a message requesting that an
Air Culebra official call back to confirm that they were
working to pull together the documents requested by the
DGAC. On 28 December, Air Culebra rep contacted the Econ
Chief's office and stated that they had sent a letter to the
DGAC requesting an extension of two weeks for full submittal
of the requested documentation. He said the airline had
compiled all the required paperwork with the exception of
the ICAO compliance letter. He said it would be impossible
for them to get that letter prepared before the first week
of January 2005.

6. (SBU) In April 2004, the FAA requested the DGAC provide
a review of the aviation safety oversight provided in the
Departments of Guadeloupe and French Polynesia to determine
whether it met minimum international standards established
by ICAO. A 14 September meeting in Paris resulted in a
successful resolution to the request for a specific review
of the DGAC's safety oversight in the DOMs and TOMs
(Departements d'Outre Mer and Territoires d'Outre Mer).
However, during this meeting the subject of N registered
aircraft operating under FAR 135 in the French Territories
was also discussed. The DGAC noted that these aircraft
appear to operate primarily in the French territories and
rarely return back to the United States. In effect, these
operations could constitute seventh freedom passenger
services which are not provided for in the U.S.- France open
skies agreement. DGAC reps expressed concern about the lack
of oversight of these operators since they were "U.S.-based"
FAR 135 operators. At this meeting FAA emphasized that
DGAC had the authority over these operators in their
territory, just as the FAA has authority of foreign
operators when they are in the U.S. or U.S. territories.
The recent request by DGAC for information to revalidate the
nonscheduled flight authorizations appears to be a direct
result of the discussions which occurred in September.

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