Cablegate: Air France Discusses Alternative Arrangements For

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: Paris 7216


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a meeting with Emboffs December 21,
Air France officials expressed concern about the cost of
processing visas for crewmembers. Air France estimates that
it requires approximately 6000 visas per year at a cost in
lost crew time and other expenses it claims could reach five
million euros. Air France proposed a number of possible
alternatives, and said they would also be raising the issue
directly with DHS. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Guy Tardieu, Air France Vice-President for
External Relations and Chief of Staff to Chairman Jean-Cyril
Spinetta and two staffers met with Emboffs December 21 to
discuss their concerns about the logistics and costs of
providing crew visas to its 12,000 flight crewmembers who
might need to enter the U.S. Air France estimates that its
crewmembers will need 5-6,000 visas per year, at a total
annual cost to the airline of approximately five million
euros. (Its unions insist that Air France foot the bill for
wages and travel expenses due to the U.S. requirement that
applicants personally appear for a fingerprint scan).

3. (SBU) After noting that Air France was moving ahead
with its own program of creating a biometric database of all
its employees, Tardieu and his staff reviewed a number of
alternatives for visa processing that they believed could
save them time and money. Most involved collection and/or
processing of biometric data for crewmembers at Air France
facilities, (using either Air France or USG equipment),
followed by secure transmission to U.S. authorities for visa
adjudication and issuance. Collection could be supervised
by French police or a U.S.-appointed supervisor (at Air
France expense). One transmission option would be to embed
fingerprints in the Master Crew List, which Air France
already provides to the USG on a regular basis via the
French Border Police.

4. (SBU) Emboffs noted a number of potential difficulties
any such proposal raised. While technically possible,
indirect collection of biometric data outside of channels
directly controlled by the USG could be seen as implying
mutual recognition of security arrangements, a broad and
sensitive issue that would need high-level negotiation and
decision. A more viable option might be to link fingerprint
scans of crewmembers done at entry by USG officials to visa
applications; it was unclear to us however if this was
technically possible. Even use of prior scans for visa
renewals would require changes in DHS regulations currently
in force, we warned.

5. (SBU) Moreover, Emboffs argued that if special
arrangements were made for Air France, other airlines would
surely request them, including those with less than sterling
reputations for screening and security. It would perhaps be
preferable for Air France to envisage a collective solution
in cooperation with other large airlines. Tardieu agreed
that this was a common problem. Following Air France
Chairman Spinetta's October proposal to the Ambassador
(reftel), he had recently talked to CBP about having Air
France serve along with other airlines as a pilot tester of
DHS's program to allow transmission of passenger data to the
U.S. for name-checking before take-off (Secure Flight).
Perhaps the issue could be raised in that context as well,
he said.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Post passes along Air France's ideas
for information purposes only at this time. We would
appreciate any additional information that emerges from Air
France discussions with CBP or other USG agencies about
participation in the DHS pilot program. END COMMENT.


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