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Cablegate: Jordan-Iraq Aviation Issues Reviewed

Published: Mon 29 Sep 2003 02:58 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 006222
SIPDIS
TREASURY FOR OASIA - A DEMOPULOS
CPA FOR TRENT, WILLIS, WAYNE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR EFIN PINR IZ JO
SUBJECT: Jordan-Iraq Aviation Issues Reviewed
REF: Amman 05889
1. (SBU) Summary. The Jordanian Transportation
Minister told CPA transportation advisors that Jordan
wishes to cooperate in rebuilding the Iraqi aviation
sector. Jordan is ready to provide training to Iraqi CAA
and airline employees and to work with CPA to return or
dispose of Iraqi aircraft in Jordan per UN Security
Council Resolution 1483. The Jordanians encouraged an
early visit to Amman by Iraq's transportation minister,
which could be the next step in moving cooperation
forward. End Summary.
2. (SBU) CPA Senior Advisor to the Transportation
Ministry Darrell Trent reviewed Iraq-Jordan aviation
issues with Jordanian Aviation Minister Nader Dhahabi
September 25 in Amman. Accompanying Trent were CPA
advisors Frank Willis, Rob Wayne and Chris Walker, and
Embassy econoffs. Dhahabi was joined by Secretary
General Alaa Batainah, Civil Aviation Director Hanna
Najjar, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official.
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Training for Iraqis
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3. (SBU) Dhahabi opened the meeting by warmly welcoming
Trent and team and expressing readiness to be helpful in
any way. He noted that the Jordanian CAA's Queen Noor
Technical College would begin offering training to 29
Iraqi air traffic controllers on October 4, and hoped
that this was just the beginning of a long-term
relationship between the Jordanian and Iraqi CAA's. The
minister said that the CAA was also ready to train Iraqi
Airways employees as soon as the airline was ready. He
said that in both cases there was much work to be done,
since Iraqi knowledge of the international civil aviation
world was basically frozen at its 1990 level.
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Iraqi Airways Planes in Jordan
------------------------------
4. (SBU) In response to Trent's question, Dhahabi said
Iraqi Airways airplanes that have been in Jordan since
1991 were not airworthy (see ref). The planes had been
sitting on the tarmac unprotected for more than ten years
and no effort had been made to preserve engines or other
critical systems. Jordan did not have maintenance
records. The minister estimated that the cost of a "D
check" overhaul to make the aircraft airworthy would cost
more than it would to buy aircraft of similar age and
model on the market. He thought it could cost up to $7
million per airplane to make them airworthy, while planes
on the market with clear histories and maintenance
records would cost less than half that amount.
5. (SBU) Trent said that these were important points,
but that the fate of the airplanes was also a matter of
national pride in Iraq. He said he had promised his
Iraqi colleagues that he would look in detail at all the
options before a decision was made. The Minister offered
the assistance of Royal Jordanian Airlines and the
JORAMCO aircraft maintenance company in conducting an
objective technical assessment of the airplanes. Boeing
or Pratt and Whitney experts could participate in such an
assessment, he said. The Minister also agreed that Trent
could physically inspect the aircraft (which Trent and
Wayne did later that day).
6. (SBU) The Minister said Jordan was ready to deal
with the aircraft as requested by the Development Fund
for Iraq (DFI) created by UNSCR 1483, noting that it
applied to "economic resources" as well as to financial
assets. The Minister said the accumulated JD 3-4 million
in landing and parking fees would also have to be dealt
with. He suggested that this could be handled
"politically," with the claim being reduced or dropped if
requested by the Iraqi authorities. The Minister used
this point as an opportunity to extend an invitation to
the Iraqi transportation minister. He said that Jordan
would be pleased to publicize such a visit and
demonstrate that Iraqis were playing an important role in
their own affairs.
7. (SBU) As for the Falcon-20 executive jet currently
parked at Amman's Marka Airport, the Minister said Jordan
was ready to turn the plane over to the DFI once its
owner had been determined to be the Iraqi government or
an entity operating on behalf of the Iraqi government per
UNSCR 1483. The Minister said it was his understanding
that the plane had been used to transport senior Iraqi
officials, but that a legal demonstration of GOI
ownership was necessary before Jordan could turn it over.
Asked by Trent, Dhahabi said he had no information about
the whereabouts of two long missing Iraqi air force
Falcon-20 jets.
-----------------------------------
Jordanian-Iraqi Transport Companies
-----------------------------------
8. (SBU) Dhahabi raised the case of the Iraq-Jordan
land transport company, which is 50% Iraqi government
owned, and the joint maritime company that is 1/3 Iraqi
government owned. The Minister of Finance was in charge
of determining how these financial assets should be
treated. The government had established a temporary
committee to oversee the ongoing business of these firms
in the place of their former boards of directors. The
General Manager of one of the companies had been
dismissed because the GOJ committee was not confident he
was acting in the best interest of the company. As in
the case of the airplanes, the Minister said he
understood that these assets should eventually be turned
over to the DFI.
----------------------------------
Royal Jordanian Operations to Iraq
----------------------------------
9. (SBU) Trent and Willis expressed appreciation for
the cooperation offered by Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ),
particularly the airline's help in providing charter
service between Amman and Baghdad for CPA officials and
others traveling on CPA business. The Minister said he
hoped RJ would be "the first" to fly regular flights to
Baghdad and Basra whenever Iraq was ready to take that
step. In the meantime, he said there should be some
clarification in procedures for authorizing special
flights into Iraq. He suggested that there should be one
Iraqi focal point that provided official permission for
such flights, observing that a decision by the Centcom
Regional Air Mobility Command (RAMC) in Doha to provide a
slot did not constitute approval for a flight. This
ambiguity had sometimes created confusion when requests
were made to Jordan's CAA to approve specific flight
requests. Trent said he would clarify the situation.
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Comment
-------
10. (SBU) The Jordanians are clearly interested in
developing a long-term aviation relationship with Iraq,
and are ready to provide training and other help as an
investment toward that end. They are anxious to dispose
of Iraqi aircraft in Jordan, but will want to be assured
that they do so in complete conformity with UNSCR 1483.
In the case of the Falcon-50, this means they will need
evidence of Iraqi ownership or a request from the
government of registration (Switzerland) before turning
the aircraft over. Although the Jordanians are ready to
cooperate fully with CPA and Iraqi ministries, it is
politically easier for them to do so when requests come
to them directly from Iraqi officials. Thus, an early
visit to Amman by the Iraqi Transportation Minister could
help move these issues along.
GNEHM
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