Attempts by the Argentine Government to introduce a 2nd monthly stopover in Rio Gallegos by Lan Chile aircraft enroute to the Falklands has been opposed by the Falklands Government.
Currently, under a Treaty agreed between the United Kingdom and Argentine Governments, a Lan Chile aircraft puts down in Rio Gallegos once a month, while on a flight between Santiago and the Falklands, and again a week late on the return journey, but Argentine diplomats indicated to British Government officials that they would like a second monthly stop-over in the southern Argentine city. However, according to Councillor Mike Summers, the Falklands Government is not in favour of this proposal and has told the British Foreign Office of their objections.
However he pointed out that it was possible for the British Government to introduce changes to the Treaty, which was signed in July 1999 by the then Argentine Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Falklands Councillors Sharon Halford and Mike Summers. But, said Councillors Summers, ?I don't believe they would take this step without prior Falkland Islands Government approval'.
Under the terms of the Treaty or Joint Statement as it is officially known, Argentine Nationals may now enter the Falklands, but their Argentine passports must be stamped by Falklands Immigration authorities, so giving recognition of the existence of the Falklands Government. We know that the present Argentine Government is very unhappy with this situation ?but they have no appetite to change the current arrangements' said Councillor Summers.
Meanwhile the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has given approval for the weekly Lan Chile flights between Santiago and the Falklands to be recognized as ?scheduled' and not ?charter' as previously. Representation was made to the MFA by British Embassy officials in Buenos Aires, following several recent incidents when they aircraft was delayed, after technical problems occurred, while approval for a continuation of the flight was awaited from Buenos Aires. Last month 20 Argentine next-of-kin had their week's visit to the Falklands delayed for 4 days while permission from Buenos Aires was awaited in order to continue the flight. However MFA officials have said that Lan Chile must now apply for the weekly service to be given ?scheduled status' and to date they have failed to make the application.