|06LIMA269||2006-01-23 23:05:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Lima|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 000269
1. (C) Summary. The indefinite grounding of TANS Airlines
on January 6 has become highly politicized, with President
Toledo ordering the removal of Director General of Civil
Aviation Roberto Rodriguez from his post on January 20.
According to DGAC officials, the Ministry of Defense, which
owns and controls TANS, requested the President that
Rodriguez be fired as retribution for suspending TANS' air
operating certificate. The new Director, who assumed control
on January 23, is Luis Cesar Rivera Perez, the former
Director of Air Traffic Control at CORPAC. DGAC contacts
tell us that they do not believe that the new Director will
immediately resume TANS flights, but that the possibility
exists, especially if the Ministry of Transport finds that
the DGAC did not maintain proper enforcement documentation on
TANS. End Summary.
Out with the Old, in with the New
2. (C) During the FAA Safety Assessment last week (reftel),
Roberto Rodriguez, now former Director General of Civil
Aviation, informed us that he might lose his job over the
grounding of TANS. Rodriguez was right -- on the afternoon
of January 20, he called Econoff to inform her that he would
be replaced immediately, with the new Director taking office
on Monday. Rodriguez explained that the decision was
political; President Toledo ordered the Minister of Transport
to make the change. According to Rodriguez and other DGAC
contacts, the Minister of Defense, supporting the Air Force
(which owns and operates TANS), has since January 6
repeatedly requested that Rodriguez be relieved of his post
as retribution for suspending TANS. The Minister of
Transport waited until after the FAA concluded the
International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) to make the
3. (SBU) The new Director of the DGAC is Luis Cesar Rivera
Perez, former head of Air Traffic Control at CORPAC.
Rodriguez will resume his previous position at the DGAC as
Director of Air Navigation. It is unclear whether Director
Rivera will make personnel changes in the DGAC in the short
term. Many director-level DGAC officials have already
expressed to Econoff that they expect to be replaced in the
next few weeks.
4. (SBU) Prior to becoming Director of the DGAC, Luis Cesar
Rivera Perez worked as the Director of Air Traffic Control at
CORPAC (Peruvian Corporation for Airports and Commercial
Aviation). He was also the president of SUCTA, the Union for
Air Traffic Controllers. As President of SUCTA, Rivera led
several strikes at Peruvian airports in 2005, demanding
higher pay for air traffic controllers.
5. (C) According to our contacts at the Lima Airport
Partners (LAP), Rivera is a close friend of Carlos Palacios,
the owner of Aero Condor (who is under investigation for
narcotrafficking). Our LAP contacts also noted that Rivera
has close ties to the TANS General Manager and, as traffic
controller, helped protect TANS from negative press during
the December 31 near-collision with a LAN 767 (ref B).
Resumption of TANS Flights?
5. (SBU) From everything that we hear about Director Rivera,
he is committed to maintaining high standards in the DGAC.
However, Rivera, who is a member of President Toledo's Peru
Posible, may feel pressure from the Administration and the
Ministry of Defense to review Rodriguez's decision to suspend
TANS. TANS management is very confident, informing the press
that the airline should resume flights in the next two weeks.
(Note: President Toledo flew on a TANS flight with a
military pilot on January 12, after TANS was grounded. TANS
uses this example to show that the company will obtain
permissions to resume flights. End Note.)
6. (SBU) Post foresees three possible scenarios for TANS to
--The Ministry of Transport, based on an Air Force request,
reviews the DGAC files and finds that there was insufficient
documentation and enforcement activities to warrant the
suspension, overturning the decision; or
--TANS meets the DGAC requirements to resume flights,
including hiring civilian (non-active military duty) pilots
and leasing a new plane that meet safety and maintenance
--The new Director reviews the TANS file and current DGAC
requirements, and establishes new requirements that more
adequately fit the DGAC's documentation on TANS' safety
7. (C) As stated in reftel, the resumption of TANS flights
would trigger an FAA review of the DGAC's safety process.
Post would take the appropriate steps based on the FAA's
8. (U) Director Rivera is unknown to the Embassy. We will
arrange a meeting with Rivera this week to establish a
working relationship. We will also review the FAA conditions
on Category I.