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Cablegate: Air Transport for Afghans to Hajj - Situation Improved With

VZCZCXRO0850
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #5620 3330210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290210Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4303
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY 0104
RHMCSUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 4245
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS KABUL 005620

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EB/OTP, EB/TRA/AN
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A
COMMERCE FOR ITA/SHAMROCK
FAA FOR JHANCOCK AND RSMITH
RIYADH FOR ECON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR PGOV ECON AF
SUBJECT: AIR TRANSPORT FOR AFGHANS TO HAJJ - SITUATION IMPROVED WITH
SOME LINGERING UNCERTAINTIES


This message is sensitive but unclassified--not for Internet
distribution.

REF: A) KABUL 5279 B) KABUL 5547 C) STATE 190219

1. (SBU) Afghanistan began its Hajj operation on November 22, and to
date has transported slightly over 4000 Hajjis, in spite of some
ongoing hurdles. GoA and Afghan air carriers have managed to
solidify their plans for moving the some 24,000 Hajjis from four
Afghan cities to Jeddah. State-owned carrier Ariana has had one
flight a day the past several days from Kabul, carrying about half
of the total passenger load. Private carrier KamAir has begun
flights from Herat, Mazar, and Kandahar. The Embassy greatly
appreciates support provided by AmEmbassy Riyadh and AmConsulate
Jeddah in getting the SAG to act on approving safe aircraft from the
two Afghan carriers (reftels).

2. (SBU) In spite of good progress, including success in securing
air assets and requisite slots, Saudi visa issuance capacity here
has emerged as a new issue. The problem is the Saudis have not been
issuing visas fast enough to utilize the available slots. The
Afghan MFA has been working to address this problem with the Saudi
Charge D'Affaires here, and have confirmed to us that they have now
reached agreement for the Saudis to provide 1000 visas per day.


3. (SBU) COMMENT: Although flights (aircraft and slots) are
available to haul nearly 2000 Hajjis a day, the average after four
days was less than 800 per day, which led to a number of delayed or
cancelled flights. At this rate it would take 26 days to finish,
assuming perfect weather, but there are only 26 days left, and
weather issues are a constant factor here. If successfully
implemented, the MFA agreement with the Saudis here to increase visa
issuance would strengthen the viability of the Afghan Hajj
operation. While the overall situation has taken a distinct turn for
the better, we are continuing to monitor it closely and respond to
ongoing requests for support from the Ministry of Transportation.
NEUMANN

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