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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06KABUL4890 2006-10-07 13:08:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

FRENCH AVIATION AUTHORITY TO DECIDE ARIANA AIRLINE'S LEASE

Tags:   EAIR ECON BEXP AF 
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1. (SBU) Ariana Airlines is attempting to wet-lease two Boeing
aircraft to fly between Kabul and Frankfurt, among other routes.
The aircraft are to be based in Dubai and operated by Eagle Aviation
France, with Eagle flight operations and maintenance crews. The
French civil aviation authority is to decide on October 12 whether
they will allow Eagle to operate the aircraft on its Air Operating
Certificate (AOC). The French civil aviation authority has delayed
meeting to consider this decision at least twice, and Ariana has
become concerned about the delays. Embassy requests that the
Department communicate with the French civil aviation authority to
urge quick and favorable action on Eagle's application. End
summary.



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


Critical Decision in French CAA Hands


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





2. (SBU) Ariana Afghan Airlines has been moving for several months
toward a wet-leasing deal for two Boeing 757 aircraft that would
allow Afghanistan's flag carrier to resume passenger service to
Europe (Frankfurt and possibly London). The deal would have a
French company, Eagle Aviation France, operate the two planes for
Ariana on Eagle's AOC. Eagle plans to physically base the airplanes
in Dubai with French oversight of the flight operations and
maintenance.



3. (U) The French civil aviation authority (DGAC) plans to meet on
12 October to consider whether it should allow Eagle to put the
aircraft on Eagle's AOC. At issue is whether the DGAC would
consider the lease to be a flag-of-convenience arrangement for a
blacklisted carrier (Ariana) to provide service to Europe.



4. (SBU) We believe that this deal does not represent a
flag-of-convenience arrangement, since the aircraft will be operated
by a company based in France, and the aircraft themselves will be
based and maintained in the UAE. Both France and the UAE are rated
IASA Category I. Though the aircraft will fly under Ariana livery,
the only aspects of the operation to be run by Ariana are scheduling
and ticketing.



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The Best Short-Term Solution


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





5. (U) As a practical matter, enabling Ariana to resume flights to
Europe will bring significant economic benefits to Afghanistan. The
country is currently underserved, and neither the Afghan civil
aviation authority nor Ariana has good short-term prospects of
increasing the quantity, quality, or safety of passenger service to
and from Afghanistan. We believe wet-leasing aircraft from
operators in IASA Category I countries is a viable short- to
medium-term solution to grow air service quickly and safely while
Ariana and the GoA improve their ability to operate and oversee safe
passenger airline service.



6. (SBU) Another consideration is that this wet-lease is a bridge to
the sale of Boeing 737 aircraft to Ariana in 2008. If the Eagle
wet-lease does not happen, Ariana may shop for alternatives to put
it on a path to buying Airbus aircraft. We do not know whether the
DGAC may consider disapproving this deal to create an opportunity
for a more Airbus-friendly lease and purchase arrangement.



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


Action Request and Talking Points


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7. (SBU) Embassy requests the Department to communicate our

KABUL 00004890 002.2 OF 002


perspective to the DGAC via Embassy Paris and urge the DGAC to take
swift and favorable action on Eagle's request. Talking points
follow.

BEGIN TALKING POINTS

-- Eagle Aviation France, a French wet-lease aviation operator, is
applying for permission to list on its air operating certificate
(AOC) two aircraft to fly between Europe (Frankfurt) and the Afghan
market for Ariana Afghan Airlines.

-- The proposed lease conditions are for Eagle to operate and
maintain the aircraft based in Dubai, with Eagle's air crew and
maintenance, under the oversight of the French civil aviation
authority. This arrangement ensures the safe operation of passenger
service to ICAO and IASA standards under the close control of a
French operator and the French internationally recognized safety
oversight program.

-- As recent history has demonstrated, Afghanistan is a special case
among post-conflict developing countries. We believe the
international community has an obligation to do everything it can to
help Afghanistan move quickly to economic well-being. It must not
fail to discharge this obligation.

-- Passenger air service is an important component in rebuilding
Afghanistan's economy. Air links between Afghanistan and the rest
of the world--particularly Europe--are severely underdeveloped. At
the present time, the Afghan government and Ariana are not in a
position to grow the Afghan aviation industry on their own. For the
short term, serving and growing this market is best done by safe and
reliable operators from developed countries, like France's Eagle
Aviation, with good safety oversight.

-- We urge the DGAC to weigh the application of Eagle Aviation
France carefully and with due consideration to the special needs of
Afghanistan.

END TALKING POINTS.

NORLAND