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Cablegate: Civair and Ministry of Trade Raise Open Skies, With

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0026 0052048
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 052047Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1892
INFO RHMFIUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RULSJGA/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000026

SIPDIS
DOT OFFICE OF NEGOTIATIONS, EEB/TRA/AN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ETRD ECON PGOV CO
SUBJECT: CIVAIR AND MINISTRY OF TRADE RAISE OPEN SKIES, WITH
LIMITATIONS

1. (SBU) Summary. Colombian civil aviation authorities have long
resisted signing an Open Skies agreement with the United States, in
an effort to protect its former national airline, Avianca, and
Colombia's air cargo industry. Director General of Aeronautica
Civil Francisco Sanclemente and Vice Minister of Tourism Oscar
Rueda, however, expressed to EconOffs a willingness to reconsider
discussions on Open Skies, but with restrictions, in order to lower
the cost of air travel in Colombia. End Summary.

GOC Shows Mild Interest in Open Skies

--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) AeroCivil Director Sanclemente told EconOffs that he
would be interested in reopening conversations about Open Skies,
noting that President Uribe had personally asked him to lower costs
for travelers. Sanclemente added that he proposed Open Skies to
Uribe as a way of accomplishing this. Sanclemente's staff,
however, has yet to show any indication of opening dialogue on Open
Skies.

3. (SBU) In a separate meeting, Vice Minister of Tourism Oscar
Rueda told us that when the U.S.-Colombia Bilateral Aeronautical
Agreement is renewed this spring, Open Skies could be an agenda
item. Rueda claimed, however, the Colombians would only approve
flights up to the third and fourth freedoms, meaning that they
would not approve incoming flights routed through third countries,
which is the fifth freedom and constitutes a full Open Skies
agreement.

4. (SBU) Sanclemente's staff recently told Department of
Transportation negotiators that there are still too many unresolved
issues surrounding Open Skies. The GOC cite congestion at Bogota's
El Dorado airport and argue that open routes are too difficult to
control, that intermediates via Venezuela cannot be carved out, and
that cargo competition via intermediates northbound would wipe out
TAMPA airlines' business. They are also reluctant to agree to the
required safety and security articles.

Comment: Full Open Skies Still a Challenge

--------------------------------------------- -------

5. (SBU) Any discussion of signing an Open Skies agreement would
likely face stiff resistance from Avianca, Colombia's largest
airline, and Tampa, its air cargo airline. Avianca officials have
complained that U.S. regulations linked with Open Skies are too
onerous for the airline to adopt cost-effectively. While
Sanclemente and Rueda have expressed interest in Open Skies during
private meetings, it is not clear that the government of Colombia
would agree to a full Open Skies agreement anytime soon.
Discussions in this spring will shed more light on Colombia's
thinking.
BROWNFIELD

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