09ASTANA256, KAZAKHSTAN: CIVIL AVIATION COMMITTEE REPORTS THAT AIR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA256 2009-02-12 08:42 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9934
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0256/01 0430842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120842Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4596
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1175
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0572
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1278
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0284
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0749
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0665
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2046

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000256 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EEB 
STATE PLEASE PASS USTDA FOR DAN STEIN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAIR KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  CIVIL AVIATION COMMITTEE REPORTS THAT AIR 
ASTANA OBJECTS TO OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT 
 
REF:  08 STATE 129946 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  EconOff met on February 4 with Civil Aviation 
Committee Deputy Director Daulet Mamekov to solicit official 
feedback on model bilateral and multilateral Open Skies agreements 
that we provided the Kazakhstani government per reftel.  Mamekov 
reported that Air Astana will oppose any agreement that might impact 
its market share.  He agreed, however, that there may be room for an 
agreement which covers only cargo.  Mamekov reiterated the 
Kazakhstani government's interest in direct passenger flights 
between Kazakhstan and the United States.  END SUMMARY. 
 
AIR ASTANA OPPOSES OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT 
 
3.  (SBU) On February 4, EconOff met with Civil Aviation Committee 
(CAC) Deputy Director Daulet Mamekov to solicit official feedback on 
model bilateral and multilateral Open Skies agreements which we 
provided to the Kazakhstani government on December 22, per reftel. 
Mamekov wasted no time in saying while the CAC would be willing to 
sign an Open Skies agreement, executives at Air Astana 
--Kazakhstan's 51% state-owned flagship carrier -- oppose the idea. 
Mamekov explained that neither the CAC nor the Ministry of Transport 
and Communications agency is in a position to challenge Air Astana. 
 
 
4.  (SBU) Mamekov quoted directly from a lengthy letter sent to Vice 
Minister of Transport and Communication Azat Bekturov by Air 
Astana's Director for Commercial Planning, I. Janleil, who wrote, 
"If signed, this (Open Skies) agreement would have a significant 
negative impact, including the possible closure of the national 
airline."  (NOTE: Post has obtained a copy of the complete letter, 
which has been shared with Washington.  END NOTE.)  Janleil further 
wrote that the Kazakhstani side would "suffer significant losses," 
and that U.S. carriers would "attract passenger traffic which will 
use the (same) routes of Kazakhstani carriers." According to 
Janleil, "these direct losses could amount to $45 million in the 
long run," which "does not include Air Astana's tax payments to the 
national budget or job losses."  Mamekov added that Air Astana's 
specific concerns include the model agreements' absence of limits on 
flight frequency and geographic range. 
 
5.  (SBU) Mamekov explained that he understood Air Astana's business 
concerns about competing with large, established American carriers, 
quoting the Russian proverb, "elephants rub, flies die."  He 
suggested, however, that Air Astana's opposition could perhaps be 
trumped if an Open Skies agreement were to be accompanied by pledges 
from American carriers to carry out specific, large-scale investment 
projects in Kazakhstan, such as the development of a new airport. 
He then added somewhat contradictorily that even if American 
carriers were amendable to this concept, which would include the 
training of a domestic Kazakhstani work force, their access to the 
Kazakhstani aviation market would still have to be negotiated by 
them on a case-by-case basis. 
 
DOOR MAY BE OPEN FOR CARGO-ONLY AGREEMENT 
 
6.  (SBU) Mamekov admitted that there may be room for an Open Skies 
agreement that covers only cargo services, or small passenger planes 
with seating for less than 20 passengers.  (NOTE: U.S. Department of 
Transportation representatives raised the possibility of a 
cargo-only agreement with the Kazakhstanis during the Athens 
aviation conference in October.  END NOTE.)  At this point, Mamekov 
claimed, without further elaboration, that a new Law on Civil 
Aviation, which he expected would be enacted within the next several 
months, "would eliminate the necessity to sign any agreements with 
any countries." 
 
INTEREST IN DIRECT U.S.-KAZAKHSTAN FLIGHTS 
 
7.  (SBU) Mamekov repeated the Kazakhstani government's interest, 
 
ASTANA 00000256  002 OF 002 
 
 
previously expressed by the Kazakhstanis in Athens, in the 
possibility of initiating direct passenger flights between 
Kazakhstan and the United States, and asked whether any U.S. 
carriers had expressed interest in such a proposition.  (NOTE:  In 
Air Astana's letter to Bekturov, the airline partly justified its 
rejection of an Open Skies agreement by stating that no Kazakhstani 
carrier intended to explore commercial routes directly to the United 
States in the near future.  END NOTE.)   Mameko
v explained that if 
Prime Minister Masimov directed him to purse direct flights, this 
might provide the political weight necessary to override Air 
Astana's opposition to an Open Skies agreement. 
 
8.  (SBU) Mamekov concluded the meeting by enumerating several areas 
of possible bilateral cooperation in Kazakhstan's civil aviation 
sector, including upgrading Kazakhstan's civil aviation fleet, 
cooperation with Boeing, and the creation of a technical aviation 
center.  He admitted that Kazakhstan has had some difficulties 
working with authorities in the European Community's Safety 
Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) program.  He claimed that 
several Kazakhstani companies had been blacklisted for failure to 
meet SAFA's standards, adding that he doubts that all U.S. companies 
"meet such severe requirements."  Mamekov proposed a trip to 
Washington in the spring for Kazakhstani officials to discuss civil 
aviation issues. 
 
9.  (SBU) COMMENT:  The Ministry of Transport and Communication, the 
Civil Aviation Committee, and Air Astana appear to have conflicting 
views on the value of an Open Skies agreement.  The CAC claims to 
understand the benefit of increased regional integration, but 
remains unwilling to directly challenge Air Astana, which 
monopolizes key air routes and reportedly has direct influence with 
President Nazarbayev.  Pursuit of a cargo-only Open Skies agreement 
might be our best option for now.  END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

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