US embassy cable - 02ROME1067

AMBASSADOR AND TRANSPORT MINISTER ON MALPENSA, ALITALIA, AND AVIATION SAFETY/SECURITY

Identifier: 02ROME1067
Wikileaks: View 02ROME1067 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-02-28 15:56:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EAIR IT ITEAIR AVIATION FAA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 001067 
 
SIPDIS 
 
TRANSPORTATION FOR INTERNATIONAL AVIATION, 
ALSO PLS PASS USTR, BRUSSELS FOR USEU, FAA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2012 
TAGS: EAIR, IT, ITEAIR, AVIATION, FAA 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND TRANSPORT MINISTER ON MALPENSA, 
ALITALIA, AND AVIATION SAFETY/SECURITY 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR MEL SEMBLER FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D) 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01067  01 OF 02  281627Z 
1. (C)  SUMMARY:  THE AMBASSADOR CALLED ON TRANSPORT MINISTER 
LUNARDI FEBRUARY 26 FOR A DISCUSSION CENTERED ON BILATERAL 
AVIATION ISSUES.  THE AMBASSADOR PRESSED LUNARDI TO IMPROVE 
THE SITUATION OF U.S. CARRIERS AT MALPENSA AIRPORT, WHERE 
THEY ARE COMPETITIVELY DISADVANTAGED VIS A VIS EU CARRIERS AT 
THE MORE CONVENIENT LINATE.  LUNARDI WAS AWARE THAT SOME U.S. 
CARRIERS HAD PULLED OUT OF MALPENSA, BUT BLAMED THE SITUATION 
ON EU RULES AND THE GENERAL ECONOMIC CRISIS FACING AIRLINES. 
LUNARDI WENT ON TO DESCRIBE THE SERIOUS FINANCIAL PROBLEMS OF 
ALITALIA, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS  "ON THE EDGE OF BANKRUPTCY". 
  THE AMBASSADOR PRAISED ENAC/ECAC PRESIDENT ROMA FOR HIS 
OUTSTANDING COOPERATION WITH THE U.S. IN ICAO AND IN AVIATION 
SECURITY AND SAFETY MATTERS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C)THE AMBASSADOR MET WITH TRANSPORT MINISTER LUNARDI ON 
FEBRUARY 26.   LUNARDI IS RESPONSIBLE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND 
PUBLIC WORKS, AS WELL AS FOR TRANSPORT.  THE AMBASSADOR NOTED 
THAT THE GOI'S PLANS FOR RENEWED INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT 
WOULD ELICIT U.S. BIDDERS, AND THAT FAIR AND TRANSPARENT 
TENDERS WERE ESSENTIAL.   THE MINISTER EXPLAINED THAT THE GOI 
WAS WORKING ON THE BASIS OF INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, SUCH AS THE 
ITALIAN AIRPORT SYSTEM -- INTEGRATED WITH THE EU AIRPORT 
SYSTEM AND INCLUDING TWO HUBS -- MALPENSA IN MILAN AND 
FIUMICINO IN ROME. 
 
MALPENSA 
------------ 
 
3.  (C) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD LUNARDI THAT U.S. CARRIERS FACED 
SERIOUS COMPETITIVE DISADVANTAGE IN MILAN.  TRANSATLANTIC 
CARRIERS ARE RESTRICTED TO FAR AWAY MALPENSA, WHILE EU 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01067  01 OF 02  281627Z 
CARRIERS MAY USE THE FAR MORE CONVENIENT LINATE.   LUNARDI 
BLAMED THE PROBLEM ON EU RULES, WHICH LIMITED LINATE (AS A 
CITY AIRPORT) TO EU TRAFFIC.   SLOTS ARE LIMITED, AND 
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRICTIONS WERE FAR STRICTER AT LINATE, HE 
EXPLAINED.  THE AMBASSADOR RESPONDED THAT U.S. CARRIERS -- 
INCLUDING TWA AND AMERICAN -- HAD BEEN FORCED TO STOP FLIGHTS 
FROM MALPENSA.  HE ASKED THAT THE MINISTER MAKE A SERIOUS 
EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION AT MALPENSA.   INFRASTRUCURE 
IMPROVEMENT (A THIRD RUNWAY AND A ROAD LINK TO TURIN, FOR 
EXAMPLE), IMPROVEMENT IN SEA BAGGAGE HANDLING SERVICES AND 
FEWER FLIGHT DELAYS WOULD MAKE MALPENSA MORE ATTRACTIVE TO 
MILAN PASSENGERS. 
 
ALITALIA 
--------- 
 
4.   (C)  THE MINISTER TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT ITALY HAS 
SEEN A 40 PERCENT DROP IN PASSENGER AIR TRAFFIC SINCE 
SEPTEMBER 11.  THE ITALIAN AIRLINE ALITALIA, ALREADY IN 
FINANCIAL TROUBLE BEFORE THAT TIME, IS "ON THE VERGE OF 
BANKRUPTCY."   THE GOI IS GOING TO RESTRUCTURE THE AIRLINE IN 
HOPES OF RESTORING IT TO PROFITABILITY, BUT THIS IS THE "LAST 
CHANCE".    ALITALIA IS IN AN ALLIANCE WITH AIR FRANCE AND 
DELTA.  THE MINISTER NOTED THAT, IF ALITALIA'S SITUATION 
CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE, THE AIRLINE COULD WITHDRAW FROM 
TRANSATLANTIC ROUTES, AND BECOME SOLELY AN EU CARRIER, 
FEEDING TRAFFIC TO ITS PARTNERS' TRANSATLANTIC ROUTES. 
 
5. (C)  THE AMBASSADOR ASKED IF THE GOI WAS CONSIDERING FULL 
PRIVATIZATION OF ALITALIA.  THE MINISTER SAID THAT FULL 
PRIVATIZATION WAS NOT UNDER CONSIDERATION.  THE GOI MIGHT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01067  01 OF 02  281627Z 
SELL PART OF ITS REMAINING 51 PERCENT OF THE AIRLINE, BUT 
WOULD NOT RELINQUISH ITS "GOLDEN SHARE". 
 
NAPLES AIRPORT 
-------------------- 
 
6.  (C) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD THE MINISTER THAT HE HAD BEEN 
TOLD, DURING HIS RECENT VISIT TO NAPLES, THAT A NEW AIRPORT 
WAS TO BE BUILT ON THE SITE OF AN OLD MILITARY BASE JUST 
OUTSIDE THE CITY.  THE NEAPOLITANS WERE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT 
PROSPECTS OF USING EU STRUCTURAL FUNDS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION. 
THEY HAD TOLD THE AMBASSADOR OF THEIR HOPES FOR FUTURE 
NAPLES/NEW YORK FLIGHTS OUT OF THE EXISTING AIRPORT AT 
CAPODICHINO OR FROM A NEW AIRPORT.    DID THE MINISTER 
BELIEVE THE NEW AIRPORT PROJECT WAS REALISTIC? 
 
7.  (C) LUNARDI WAS AWARE OF THIS PROPOSED PROJECT.  HE 
DECLARED HIMSELF OPEN TO EXAMINING THE PROPOSAL AND 
SUPPORTING DATA, BUT INSISTED THAT SUCH A NEW PROJECT WOULD 
HAVE TO FIT INTO THE NATIONAL AIRPORT SYSTEM.   THUS, THOSE 
PROPOSING THE NEW AIRPORT WOULD HAVE TO JUSTIFY A THIRD 
INTERNATIONAL HUB.  THIS MIGHT BE DIFFICULT, GIVEN THE 
DECLINE IN TRAFFIC AT MALPENSA AND FIUMICINO.   THERE WAS, 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2270 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01067  02 OF 02  281628Z 
ACTION EB-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   AMAD-00  A-00     ACQ-00   CIAE-00  COME-00  DODE-00 
      DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EUR-00   E-00     FAAE-00  TEDE-00 
      INR-00   LAB-01   L-00     M-00     NSAE-00  PC-01    SSO-00 
      SS-00    STR-00   SNIS-00  NISC-00  DSCC-00  DRL-02   SAS-00 
        /004W 
                  ------------------6D5CD5  281628Z /38 
R 281556Z FEB 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2506 
INFO AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 ROME 001067 
 
SIPDIS 
 
TRANSPORTATION FOR INTERNATIONAL AVIATION, 
ALSO PLS PASS USTR, BRUSSELS FOR USEU, FAA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2012 
TAGS: EAIR, IT 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND TRANSPORT MINISTER ON MALPENSA, 
ALITALIA, AND AVIATION SAFETY/SECURITY 
 
HOWEVER, NO CHANCE OF EU FUNDING FOR CONSTRUCTING A NEW 
AIRPORT IN NAPLES.   EU FUNDS COULD NOT BE USED FOR AIRPORTS. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01067  02 OF 02  281628Z 
 
ENAC'S HELP ON SAFETY AND SECURITY ISSUES 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
8.  (SBU) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD THE MINISTER THAT THE U.S. IS 
GRATEFUL FOR THE OUTSTANDING SUPPORT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM 
ALFREDO ROMA, PRESIDENT OF ENAC (ITALY'S CIVIL AVIATION 
AUTHORITY) AND OF ECAC (THE EUROPEAN CIVIL AVIATION 
AUTHORITY).  ROMA HAS NOT ONLY GIVEN THE U.S. SOLID SUPPORT 
ON BILATERAL SECURITY AND SAFETY ISSUES, HE HAS ALSO BEEN A 
STRONG VOICE IN ICAO IN SUPPORT OF ENHANCED INTERNATIONAL 
AVIATION SECURITY. 
 
COMMENT 
------------- 
 
9. (C) THE MINISTER IS RELATIVELY NEW TO AVIATION ISSUES, BUT 
DISPLAYED BOTH KNOWLEDGE AND INTEREST.  OUR RELATIONS WITH 
THE CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITIES, SUCH AS ENAC'S ROMA, HAVE 
LONG BEEN EXCELLENT, BOTH ON BILATERAL ISSUES AND IN 
MULTILATERAL FORA.  MALPENSA REMAINS A PROBLEM.  WE HAVE BEEN 
WORKING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICE ENHANCEMENTS AT THE 
AIRPORT FOR SEVERAL YEARS.  ALTHOUGH WE HAVE SEEN SOME SMALL 
IMPROVEMENTS, WE INTEND TO PRESS HARDER FOR THE GOI TO 
UPGRADE MALPENSA, AND TO MAKE IT A VIABLE INTERNATIONAL HUB. 
 
SEMBLER 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
 2002ROME01067 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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