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Air traffic controllers extended in Baghdad.



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Media contacts Catherine Fitzpatrick (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0405 351 245

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664

www.defence.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate

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Friday, 23 January 2004 15/2004

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS EXTENDED IN BAGHDAD

The Australian Defence Force air traffic control element serving at Baghdad International Airport will remain deployed until at least May, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

“While great progress is being made in re-establishing a number of essential services in Iraq, transition to Iraqi control is not yet complete," Senator Hill said.

“We expect all requirements to be met in about May or June this year and at that point our air traffic control contingent can look forward to rejoining their families in Australia. In the meantime personnel will continue to be rotated.”

The Coalition Provisional Authority is managing the transition of air traffic management from military authorities to trained Iraqi civilian controllers. As part of the program, Iraqi controllers are undertaking their training in nearby Jordan. They will also receive on-site training in Baghdad and ADF personnel will use their extensive experience to ensure the transition to civilian airspace control is as smooth as possible.

Senator Hill also said the Coalition Provisional Authority was overseeing the refurbishment of the Baghdad air traffic control tower electronic and communications equipment but as the tender process was not yet complete, there would be a short delay in handing the facility over to civilian control.

“The Government remains committed to being part of the international effort to rebuild Iraq,” Senator Hill said.

“The establishment of civilian controlled air space was a crucial step in Iraq's self-governance. While our contribution to operations in Iraq are regularly reviewed, our air traffic controllers will remain at this time whilst airspace management transition is completed.”

The air traffic control element has processed over 100,000 aircraft movements at Baghdad International Airport since deploying to Iraq in May last year, equivalent to being the third busiest airport in Australia.