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Cablegate: Faa's Filippatos Discussses Argentina Aviation Transition,

VZCZCXYZ0015
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1629/01 2331203
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211203Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8969
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6463
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1423
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6671
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0693
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6317
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG SAO PAULO 3482
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 2315
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2138
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1615
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0026
RHMFIUU/FAA MIAMI ARTCC MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001629

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

TRANSPORTATION FOR BRIAN HEDBERG
AMCONSUL MONTREAL FOR US MISSION TO ICAO
FAA NATIONAL HQ FOR JIM FILIPPATOS AND DI REIMOLD
FAA FOR CECILIA CAPESTANY AND KRISTA BERQUIST
STATE FOR IO/T AND EEB/TRA
PASS NSC FOR DPRICE AND MSMART
USDOC FOR 4322/ITA/MAC/OLAC/PEACHER, EALFORD
US SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD
FAA MIAMI ARTCC MIAMI FL FOR MAYTE ASHBY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON KTIA EINV ETRD AR
SUBJECT: FAA'S FILIPPATOS DISCUSSSES ARGENTINA AVIATION TRANSITION,
FAA ASSISTANCE, ICAO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

REF: (A) Buenos Aires 1287, (B) Buenos Aires 1046, (C) Buenos Aires
518

This cable contains sensitive information. Not for internet
distribution.

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Summary
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1. (SBU) The August 13 visit to Argentina of FAA Assistant
Administrator for International Aviation James Filippatos and Acting
Western Hemisphere Director Cecilia Capestany reinforced close ties
with senior-level GOA aviation officials. FAA officials also met
with U.S. carriers operating here. GOA officials discussed the
measured pace of Argentine civil aviation's transition from military
to civilian control (ref C), and indicated that further policy and
personnel decisions will likely not occur until after the October
presidential elections. GOA and FAA officials also discussed
possible FAA technical assistance to support this transition,
including having GoA aviation policy and technical officials visit
FAA centers in the United States. Discussions also focused on the
upcoming September ICAO General Assembly (ICAO GA), and our common
concern with the European Union's emissions trading scheme (ETS, ref
A), the extension of our technical assistance program with the GOA's
civil aviation authority, and the FAA's plan to open a regional
office in Brasilia. Press coverage and GOA's reaction to the FAA
visit were extremely positive. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -------
U.S. AIR CARRIERS DISCUSS CHALLENGING POLTICAL, COMMERCIAL AND
SECURITY ENVIRONMENT - BUT REMAIN PROFITABLE
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (SBU) Representatives from five of the six U.S. passenger and
parcel carriers operating in Argentina said that their main problem
was what they described as the overt politicization of all aspects
of aviation. They said that most aviation problems are dealt with
on the political, not technical, level. They said that the many
different GOA aviation-related authorities make "arbitrary"
decisions not subject to discussion, and that there is little
communication among the many authorities themselves. The carriers
said no major aviation policy or decision will be made until at
least after the October presidential election. On the transition to
civilian control of aviation, they expressed concern that the move
will be politicized, and put into further risk what they
characterized as an already poorly run system.

3. (SBU) The carriers renewed their complaints against the GOA's
continued use of a manual system for remote dispatch control, in
place of a computerized system. (Note: remote dispatch is the
electronic submission of aircraft information with digital
signatures to improve aircraft utilization and efficiency. End
note.) The carriers also renewed their complaints about the poor
and expensive service of the state-owned ground handling company,
Intercargo, which most carriers are forced to use, and that many of
the carriers' baggage and parcels have been occasional victims of
thefts from the company. Speaking of airport security matters in
general, the carriers said that they must employ additional
personnel just to monitor the work that these and other state
service providers (airport police, scanners, ground-handling)
perform, such as securing the aircraft, watching checked baggage,
and cargo unloading.

--------------------------------------------- -------
TRANSPORT SECRETARY JAIME: REVIEWING TRANSITION PROGRESS, FAA
ASSISTANCE OFFER, ICAO GENERAL ASSEMBLY
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (SBU) Secretary Ricardo Jaime and Vice President of the Airports
Regulator Alejandro Orchansky said that Transport Secretary and
Ministry of Defense teams have been meeting to plan the transition
and incorporate best practices. Jaime noted that a recent ICAO team
had also submitted recommendations about the transition, and that
U.S. company Mitre has also been involved in transition assistance.
Jaime and FAA officials noted that Jaime and FAA Administrator
Marion Blakey had exchanged letters about the possibility of the FAA
providing assistance with the transition. Filippatos described the
FAA's technical assistance programs, and said that the FAA would
also be willing to host appropriate GOA policy and technical teams
at the FAA's Headquarters and air traffic control and training
centers to help the Argentines to better plan their transition, and
witness our own civilian-military aviation cooperation in action.
He noted that the FAA has done this service for other nations.
Jaime promised to look into such a visit, perhaps in conjunction
with the upcoming September ICAO GA in Montreal.

5. (SBU) The two sides discussed plans for the September ICAO GA,
and in particular our common concerns about the EU's ETS (ref A).
Filippatos explained the U.S. position on the ETS, and how we are
coordinating a common position with many nations. Although Jaime
expressed general agreement with the U.S. position (as did other GOA
interlocutors throughout the day, see below), Jaime said that in the
end, any GOA position will be a "political" decision from the
president.

--------------------------------------------- ------
UNDER SECRETARY CIRIELLI DISCUSSES GOA TRANSITION, ICAO AND EU
EMISSIONS PLAN, SECURITY, COMMERCIAL ISSUES
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) Under Secretary for Commercial Air Transport Ricardo
Cirielli said that his staff had been working with the current civil
aviation authority, Air Regions Command, to ensure a smooth
transition, and to "use their experience." He said that Transport
Secretary Jaime (his immediate superior) and the Ministry of Defense

SIPDIS
were "too busy" with other issues to focus on the transition.
Cirielli expressed a strong interest in Filippatos's offer for him
to visit the FAA in the U.S. to assist him in this transition.
Cirielli said that he was hopeful that new air traffic controllers
under a civilian agency could be fully trained in two years - an
estimate that FAA officials opined could be overly optimistic.
Cirielli said that generally low level of English proficiency among
Argentina's controllers was likely a factor in some of its own
recent aviation problems, such as the reported near-misses.

7. (SBU) Cirielli confirmed that an ICAO technical team, whom he
said would charge the GOA US$5 million for a five-year contract to
assist in the transition, had recently submitted a report on various
policy options from which the GOA might choose among for its
transition. He jokingly said the report was largely just a
repackaging of the information that the GOA had submitted to the
ICAO at the outset of the contract. He said that the ICAO's report
included three different scenarios on how the new civilian agency
(ANAC) might operate, with various mixtures of Secretary of
Transport, Ministry of Defense, and outside contractor involvement
and responsibilities. Cirielli strongly expressed his preference
for a single and strong head of ANAC, instead of a weaker and

diluted structure, but acknowledged that any decision will be made
after the elections, and that "politics" are always paramount.
(Note: Cirielli himself is rumored to be one of the candidates to
head ANAC, and is strongly lobbying for it. End note.)

8. (SBU) Cirielli said that he and Air Regions Command chief
Alvarez, who will likely lead the GOA delegation to the ICAO GA, had
been meeting recently to coordinate common GOA positions in
anticipation of September's meeting. Cirielli and Filippatos
discussed the EU's ETS. Cirielli expressed his opposition to it,
and said that it was about "a tax, not the environment," but said
that he could not commit to any action to support the U.S. position.
Filippatos related the U.S. view that this should be an ICAO-wide
issue and not a unilateral decision, and that technological
innovations are a better method to solve these emissions issues.

9. (SBU) Responding to our concerns about the problems with the
state-owned ground handling company Intercargo (reported thefts, and
expensive and poor service), Cirielli frankly acknowledged that the
group is a "mafia," that it was "contaminated from top to bottom,"
but also said that just as it "steals" things from passengers' bags,
it could also just as easily "put things inside" as well in
retaliation against any action against them (i.e. planting
disallowed items), and that we all have to be careful how this
situation is handled. He said that his office is working on a
decree to open up the airport's ground-handling services to more
providers. (Note: Intercargo reportedly has its near-exclusive
service contract until 2009. End note.)

10. (SBU) Responding to our concerns that the GOA still requires
airlines to manually perform the functions of remote dispatch, which
should be done by computer, Cirielli said that Argentina does not
have this capability, and dismissed as a "minor, extra expense" to
employ extra local personnel to perform this function manually.

--------------------------------------------- --------
RENEWING FAA TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CONTRACT WITH CIVIL AVIATION
AUTHORITY
--------------------------------------------- --------

11. (SBU) Filippatos and Air Regions Command (Argentina's civil
aviation authority, under the Ministry of Defense) Commander,
Brigadier Jose Antonio Alvarez signed their recently-negotiated
agreement extension for continued FAA safety and air worthiness
technical assistance. (This FAA technical assistance program has
been widely praised by GOA officials.) On the GOA's transition from
military to civilian control of aviation, Alvarez said that due to
the "unclear" political environment, any and all decisions on policy
and personnel must await the outcome of the October presidential
elections, including who will head the nascent civil aviation
authority ANAC. Speaking of Brazil's own ongoing civil aviation
transition, he said that its recent aviation accidents, controller
strikes, and other turmoil were a "bad situation," and a "caution"
for Argentina's own transition. On ICAO GA, Alvarez noted that he
had been recently meeting with Under Secretary Cirielli to
coordinate a common GOA position and strategy. On the EU's ETS,
Alvarez said that within Argentina's aviation community, there is
wide agreement with the U.S. position, but lamented the
"Europeanization" of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and
acknowledged that the latter's view - more in line with the EU -
would be a factor in any final GOA position.

--------
COMMENT

--------

12. (SBU) GOA officials and U.S. carriers expressed their
satisfaction with this visit. For the GOA, a visit of such a senior
U.S. official is important to demonstrate our engagement. The media
also reported this visit in a very positive way. Our goal, to
bolster our already strong ties with GOA aviation officials, was
clearly met. Further, both sides appear to agree on our main
issues: that the transition from military to civilian control of
Argentine civil aviation is done with care, that our offer for FAA
technical assistance on the transition is understood, and that we
express our views on ICAO and ETS. Post will continue to engage the
GOA on our position with regard to the EU's ETS and seek their
support, and identify appropriate GOA officials to visit the FAA on
the transition. END COMMENT

13. (U) Assistant Administrator Filippatos cleared on this cable.

WAYNE

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