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Cablegate: Ethiopian Airlines Ceo Keeps Supporting Boeing

VZCZCXRO3913
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2743 3241121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201121Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6882
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 002743

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EEB/IFD/OMA - JWINKLER AND EEB/CBA -
DWINSTEAD
USAID FOR AFR/EA HELLYER AND DALTON
DEPT PASS TO USTR FOR PATRICK COLEMAN, CECILIA KLEIN, AND
BARBARA
GRYNIEWWICZ
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC FOR ITA MARIA RIVERO
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC FOR REBECCA KLEIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ETRD ECON ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CEO KEEPS SUPPORTING BOEING
DESPITE AIRBUS DEAL

REF: ADDIS ABABA 1278

1. (SBU) In a shift from his privately-made disparaging
remarks about the lobbying efforts of Airbus in June
(reftel), Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) CEO Girma Wake told CDA on
November 2 that Ethiopian Airlines needs a "mix of planes
given the size of the airline." (Note: Wake subsequently
confirmed the purchase of 12 long-range Airbus A350 aircraft
to be delivered in 2017. Press reports valued the deal at
USD 2.8 billion. Airbus is holding a press conference in
Addis Ababa on November 20 to discuss its "Global Market
Outlook for the airline industry in East Africa." End Note.)
Wake nevertheless expressed commitment to Boeing for
mid-sized aircraft and said he would not cancel EAL's order
of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. (Note: State Minister for
Transport and Communications Getachew Mengistie told Econoff
EAL has 35 aircraft on order: 15 Boeing (10 787s and 5
777s), 12 Airbus, and 8 Canadair. EAL will have 112 aircraft
total upon delivery of these orders. End Note.) Wake
actually asked to push delivery of the 787s a bit further
from late 2010 to July 2011 so EAL can fine tune the details
of its 787 aircraft layout and evaluate whether to stay with
its current order mix of 787-8s and 787-9s or shift some or
all to 787-9s. These 787s will replace EAL's older Boeing
767 aircraft. Wake went on to say he believes EAL will
eventually order more Boeing 787s and was trying to convince
Kenyan Airways to not cancel its 787 aircraft order. CDA
Meece told Wake he appreciated EAL's support of Boeing and
mentioned the potential high-level visit by Boeing officials
in December (led by Scott Carson, Executive Vice President).
Wake acknowledged the planned visit and said he was trying to
firm up dates whereby Boeing officials could meet both the
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

2. (SBU) In regards to U.S. airline codeshare negotiations,
Wake stated EAL needs to restart discussions with United
Airlines. He said United has told EAL it was forced to put
these talks on hold while finalizing agreements with
Continental Airlines. Now that those discussions are
complete, EAL looks to restart negotiations with either
United or Continental to finalize a codeshare agreement. He
indicated that if EAL is unable to complete an agreement with
United, pursuing Continental would be easier due to what he
perceives as United's more complex bureaucratic structure.
3. (SBU) Wake also said airline competition across Africa
needs to be maintained. He said this competition is crucial
to improving each airline and offers regional training
opportunities for all. Wake mentioned EAL's involvement in a
new regional airline in Togo and referred to various problems
EAL has had in securing a West African technical stop for EAL
flights to the United States. EAL investigated options in
Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria, but now is evaluating The
Gambia's potential, especially given the amount of
African-American tourists who visit sites near Banjul.
MEECE

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