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Cablegate: Re: Wha Civair: Request for Info On Transport

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

UNCLAS KINGSTON 001814

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR (WBENT)
TRANSPORTATION FOR SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION MINETA'S
OFFICE

E.O. 12958: NA
TAGS: AORC EAIR ELTN EWWT XM XL CA
SUBJECT: RE: WHA CIVAIR: REQUEST FOR INFO ON TRANSPORT
MINISTER PARTICIPATION AT UPCOMING WHTI MEETING

REF: A) STATE 132219
B) 04 KINGSTON 3385
C) KINGSTON 1318
D) KINGSTON 1346
E) KINGSTON 1316
F) KINGSTON 831
G) KINGSTON 1529

1. (U) Per reftel A, on July 20 Econoff contacted the office
of Minister of Transport and Works Robert Pickersgill. His
office confirmed that the Minister would be attending the
Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative (WHTI) meeting
to be held in Brasilia, Brazil, August 25-26, 2005. His
staff did not indicate whether or not the Minister was
interested in a private meeting with Secretary Mineta to
discuss bilateral issues, the most relevant of which are
outlined below.

2. (U) The GOJ is worried with the economic viability of the
national airline, Air Jamaica, which is facing heavy debts
(ref B) and increasing competition from low-cost carriers
(ref C).

3. (U) The GOJ is concerned about the implementation of the
WHTI and its effect on the ability of tourists to visit the
island without passports - the GOJ feels strongly that the
new documentation requirements for Americans under the WHTI
will have a strongly negative impact on their tourism
economy, as visitors turn to Puerto Rico and the Yucatan,
which will not have similar documentation requirements in
2006 (refs D and E).

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4. (U) The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) has
renewed its commitment to providing oversight of aviation
safety on the island, following a recent FAA assessment
during which Jamaica narrowly avoided a downgrade to
Category Two status (ref F).

5. (U) The GOJ has been charging a customs user fee on sales
of jet fuel to U.S. flagged carriers (American Airlines and
Northwest Airlines), but has been waiving the fee for Air
Jamaica in light of its precarious financial situation.
This exemption of the national carrier is not allowed under
the Free Skies agreement. Post has repeatedly brought the
problem to the attention of the GOJ, but has received no
substantive response in over a year (ref G). There are
similar reports from American Airlines (and perhaps other US
carriers) that the mandatory security "tax" levied on all
tickets is not remitted to the GOJ by Air Jamaica, but
rather retained as operating income. This is both a
discriminatory trade practice and an underfunding of airport
security.

TIGHE

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