|Wikileaks:||View 02ABUJA2509 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||ECON EAIR PREL PGOV NI|
|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.
UNCLAS ABUJA 002509 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECON, EAIR, PREL, PGOV, NI SUBJECT: NIGERIA: MEETING WITH MINISTER OF AVIATION- NORTHWEST CODESHARING APPROVED; NIGERIAN AIRWAYS SET TO TAKE OFF 1. (U) This is an action cable. See paragraph 9. 2. (U) On August 15 Ambassador Jeter met Minister of Aviation, Kema Chikwe to discuss the status of code sharing requests by Northwest, Delta and American Airlines with their European partners. The Minister assured the Ambassador that Northwest would be approved as a code- sharer with KLM, which began flights out of Abuja on August 15. 3. (U) However, she said that American and Delta could not be certified because they have not submitted paperwork through the proper channels. Minister Chikwe stated that she had not been informed that Delta and American were designated under the U.S.-Nigerian Air Transport Agreement, though they were listed in the same Diplomatic Note as Northwest. In addition to the Diplomatic Note sent by the Embassy, she stressed that American and Delta must write directly to her requesting code-sharing approval. (See paragraph 9 for action request) 4. (U) Minister Chikwe said while code-sharing is fine, she preferred that U.S. carriers fly directly to Nigeria and not under the code-sharing wing of European partners. The Ambassador mentioned that previously he had encouraged a delegation from the Ministry to visit the U.S. to discuss with American carriers of the profitability of flying direct to Nigeria. Before they invest, American carriers must also be convinced of airport security and safety, he emphasized. 5. (U) The Minister countered by revealing Nigerian Airways' plans to dominate the Nigeria- U.S. route. To be more competitive, Nigerian Airways is vastly upgrading its fleet, acquiring nine new aircraft- two Boeing 747s and seven 767s. In addition, the Minister said Nigerian Airways is undergoing major organizational restructuring. Nigeria Airways is doing better but not as well as she would like, crediting its slower than hoped progress and continued mismanagement. She cited the lack of cultural diversity and importation of new ideas as the primary impediment to the airline's development. The Minister revealed her plans to hire an experienced international staff to manage the airlines. Anticipating opposition to this effort to hire managers of other nationalities, she said some Nigerians might resent this effort because they fear competition. 4. (U) While Minister Chikwe wants to diversify staff, she opposed privatizing Nigeria Airways. She said, Nigeria's efforts to privatize have been a dismal failure. Privatization should be sequential, Ministry by Ministry and not all at once. Rapid privatization is a recipe for disaster and leads to inevitable conflicts with the Ministers, she continued. The Minister said all of BPE's privatization efforts have failed, citing Nitel and NigerDock as prime examples. The Bureau of Privatization contemplated privatizing Nigeria Airways, despite the Minister's opposition but desisted when the Vice President intervened. 5. (SBU) Comment: Although perhaps overly bureaucratic in her position that U.S. carriers must write a letter addressed directly to her, she did not seem to oppose code sharing for our air carriers. The Minister also clearly acknowledged the need for major improvements to the operations of Nigerian Airways, which requires capital and industry knowledge. At the same time, she adamantly opposed its privatization. Subsequent to the meeting, newspapers began reporting that the Aviation Ministry intended to sell 49 percent equity share of Nigerian Air to a United Kingdom based leasing company, Airwing. This plan would seem to fit Chikwe's desire for the GON to maintain the controlling interest in the Airline yet still inject needed capital and know-how into its operation. However, according to some reports, Airwing has no experience in airline operations, except in aircraft sales and leasing. If so, the approach might not repair the airliner's management problem. Additionally, questions have been raised about the legality of this plan as it is not under the auspices of BPE's formal privatization procedure. 9. (U) Action Requested: The Department is requested to inform Delta and American Airlines that they must submit a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation requesting code-sharing approval. JETER
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