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Cablegate: Ninewa: 2007 Hajj Flights: Progress to Date,

VZCZCXRO8417
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3104/01 2580506
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150506Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3391
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003104

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/I
SECSTATE FOR USAID
PLEASE PASS TO DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON PGOV EAID IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA: 2007 HAJJ FLIGHTS: PROGRESS TO DATE,
REMAINING OBSTACLES

REF: A. BAGHDAD 2713

B. BAGHDAD 2668

This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) message.

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) PRT Ninewa organized a September 5 meeting of the
Mosul Airport Hajj Operations Committee for Iraqi Prime
Ministerial Advisor on Airports and Seaports Ahmed Al-Saadawi
and Ninewa Governor Kashmoula. Both reported the Hajj
Committee had approved Mosul as a point of embarkation for
2007 Hajj flight operations. Al-Saadawi and the Governor had
an open, candid exchange of information and demonstrated a
positive willingness to cooperate and share responsibility.
They then toured the passenger terminal construction site and
the air traffic control tower. There remain several
technical and bureaucratic challenges, most pressingly GOI
financial commitments, before the flights can be a reality
but the PRT is confident that with provincial, national and
Coalition cooperation they will be brought to fruition.
Successful Hajj flights will likely lead to the resumption of
regular commercial flights from Mosul Airport.

------------------
Current Challenges
------------------

2. (SBU) Mosul Airport is not yet certified by Iraqi
authorities for civilian flights. On 14 August teams from
the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) and Iraqi Airways
visited Mosul Airport and indicated a favorable report would
be forthcoming. Transportation Attache reported the team
will need more ground visits to determine if the airport
meets minimum safety standards. The PRT will facilitate those
activities, but will need Embassy Baghdad support.

3. (SBU) The following items are outstanding for Iraqi
action:

- Procurement of trained and certified airport security
personnel: the Governor volunteered to provide security for
the external checkpoints. Al-Saadawi committed to working
with the Ministries of Transportation (MOT) and Finance (MOF)
to address passenger screening and security equipment needs.

- Immigration and Customs staff: the Governor confirmed his
office will coordinate with the appropriate Ministries to
obtain the required staff and support for both the outbound
and inbound Hajj Operations.

- ICAA funding: Al-Saadawi to follow up on ICAA needed
budget preparation for Hajj Operations and out of budget
cycle funding for Operations and Maintenance needs of the
Passenger Terminal (utilities, fuel, parts, supplies etc).

- Aircraft Ground Support Equipment (GSE): In concert with
the PRT, a revised and scaled-down list of required airside
and landside equipment for the passenger terminal and
pre-screening facility was presented. The Governor requested
to Al-Saadawi that GOI fund the needs and that he would
arrange emergency medical services, overnight housing needs
and ground transportation contingency for the Hajj pilgrims
in the event of late or canceled flights.

-----------------
And the Future...
-----------------

4. (SBU) Al-Saadawi and the Governor both agreed that Hajj
operations are a precursor to scheduled, daily domestic
flights to Baghdad. PRT suggested February, March or April
for potential start of service. Al-Saadawi concurred and
committed to coordinating the Iraqi Airways 2008 Budget to
include Mosul operations. During a September 10 meeting, the
Vice-Chair of the Hajj Committee told EmbOff that his
committee fully supports Hajj flights from Mosul and would
look into funding the equipment needs.

5. (SBU) Several bureaucratic speed bumps may slow the
transition but Al-Saadawi expressed confidence. Al-Saadawi

BAGHDAD 00003104 002 OF 002


said Air Traffic Control Tower section of ICAA's 2008 Budget
would include funding for Mosul's Operations and Maintenance
to encompass personnel, training, certification, utilities,
as well as miscellaneous expenses. There remains a need to
develop and execute a Letter of Agreement with Coalition
Forces for air traffic services. Al-Saadawi also agreed that
a Joint Use Agreement between CF and GOI must be prepared to
address airport safety and operational matters. He said the
turnover of the passenger terminal area to GOI was the first
of future turnovers to GOI for full airport operation and
control.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (SBU) The PRT remains cautiously optimistic about Hajj
flights operating out of Mosul in 2007. The symbolic import
will do much to improve the local image of the USG as well as
the credibility of provincial and national Iraqi governmental
promises. We believe that Hajj flights will lead to regular
civilian flights out of Mosul, linking the city economically,
culturally and politically to Iraq and the region. PRT will
eventually continue to work with MND-North, Embassy Baghdad
and our Iraqi partners to achieve our common goal.
BUTENIS

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