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Cablegate: Dcm Hosts Civil Aviation Security Discussion

VZCZCXRO2029
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #2240/01 3481244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141244Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3948
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 3976
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0716
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 6067
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 0322
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 002240

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SP ECON PREL ICAO EAIR AORC
SUBJECT: DCM HOSTS CIVIL AVIATION SECURITY DISCUSSION


1. (U) Summary. On November 14, the DCM along with various
sections of the Embassy hosted an interagency group of key
representatives from Spain's civil aviation security sector.
The DCM expressed the Embassy's appreciation for GOS security
efforts and pledged to continue and increase dialogue and
coordination. The event received favorable reviews from our
GOS contacts who appreciated the opportunity to interact with
individuals from several Embassy sections and speak candidly
in an informal setting. All participants indicated a
willingness and interest in repeating this event on an annual
or semi-annual basis. The meeting was particularly relevant
given increasing numbers of passengers and flights to and
through Spain. End Summary.

--------------------------------
Overtures for Increased Dialogue
--------------------------------

2. (U) On November 14, the DCM hosted an interagency civil
aviation security meet and greet, bringing together various
Embassy sections and representatives from Spain's civil
aviation sector to dialogue on security efforts. Attendees
included officials from: (a) airport-assigned national police
responsible for immigration as well as security on the public
side, (b) the Guardia Civil responsible for security
checkpoints, baggage screening, and security on the air side,
(c) the Ministry of Infrastructure's civil aviation security
directorate which is responsible for policy matters, (d)
Spanish Airports and Navigation (AENA) which is Spain's
airport and air navigation services operator, and (e) airline
officials. The DCM expressed Embassy appreciation for the
contributions of each organization towards international
security efforts and pledged continued support and dialogue
from the Embassy.

3. (U) Topics of discussion ranged greatly and included
discussion of the increasing levels of
drug-trafficking-related arrests at Spanish airports, efforts
to implement biometric and facial recognition technology, and
increasing passenger and flight volume. A representative
from AENA said that airports in Spain were experiencing large
passenger volumes, particularly in their transit traffic, and
that AENA projections predicted continued and significant
volume increases. (Note: the recent construction of two new
runways and a new terminal at Madrid Barajas will help
solidify Madrid's position as a transit destination. End
Note.)

4. (U) Representatives from the Guardia Civil commented that
drug trafficking arrests had increased greatly over the past
year and that they were detecting large amounts of narcotics
transiting Spain from Colombia and the Dominican Republic to
the increasingly popular destination of China. Continuing
the theme of law enforcement, an AENA representative added
that in an effort to support its law enforcement colleagues,
AENA was in the process of installing biometric and facial
recognition technology at Spanish airports. Given the recent
turnover of several positions at the airport, not all present
were aware of this proposal. This part of the dialogue was
one example the value of the event for our Spanish
colleagues, whom stayed after the event broke up to exchange
business cards and talk amongst themselves.

--------------------------------------------- --
Increasing Relevance of Spain in Civil Aviation
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (U) Spain's relevance to the U.S. in civil aviation
continues to increase. As a leading tourist destination and
transit point, Spain received close to 200 million passengers
in 2006 (a 6.6 percent increase from 2005). Preliminary 2007
statistics suggest that this amount will increase by over 8
percent this year. The past year was marked by an expansion
of flights between the U.S. and Spain by Iberia and American
Airlines, bringing the total number of carriers flying
between the U.S. and Spain to 5 for an average of 13 flights
a day.

6. (U) Airports Council International ranks the Madrid
Barajas airport in 2006 as 13th in the world for passenger
traffic and 18th in the world for aircraft movements overall.
With the expansion of Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat
airports, Spain will continue to augment its capacity and its
position as a top international destination and tourist hub.

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MADRID 00002240 002 OF 002


Comment
-------

7. (U) With increasing U.S.-Spanish civil aviation links and
an ever-existing terrorism threat, this event was an
excellent opportunity to demonstrate the mission's support
for the security work that these agencies undertake as well
as to clarify the roles of various sections of the Embassy
working on security and/or civil aviation issues. We
received positive feedback from our counterparts on this
event and will continue to build on these efforts.
AGUIRRE

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