Thursday, March 29th 2001 - 21:00 UTC

Argentine “private” flight to Falklands causes confusion.

There appears to be some confusion in the Falklands with respect to the arrival on Thursday afternoon of an Argentine businessman Matias Suarez Anzorena, a wool buyer from the city of Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego.

Mr Anzorena flew in by a Piper Aerostar aircraft with 5 colleagues on what has been termed by the Falklands Government as a ?private tourist flight', although shortly after landing at Port Stanley the Argentine businessman admitted that he ?hopes to speak to officials and farmers with a view to buying Falklands wool'. One Councillor insisted that in this case the flight should have been deemed ?commercial' and therefore would not normally be permitted under Falklands regulations. The Councillor said that it was his understanding that a majority of Councillors had felt the same way during a meeting held on Wednesday to discuss the proposed flight by Anzorena.

An Agreement signed in London in July 1999 paved the way for Argentine nationals to visit the Islands, and recently the Falklands Government issued a Statement authorizing visits by Argentine private aircraft and ships.

According to a report on Falklands radio the Islands Director of Civil Aviation Mr. Gerald Cheek passed on the request for flight permission, ?to Councillors and Government House for clearance'. Seemingly this was granted.!

This is the first flight of a ?private' aircraft to land at Port Stanley Airport since 1982, which has the full backing of the Argentine Government, Argentine Civil Aviation authorities and Falklands Government. In January another Argentine pilot Martin Rappallini, accompanied by his two daughters, landed at Port Stanley after being given the go-ahead by Falklands officials, but never received an acknowledgement from the Argentine Government to his request to undertake the flight, and accordingly flew from Argentina to Chile and then the Falklands. He has now been ?grounded' by the Argentine Government pending an appeal. Last weekend a medical evacuation flight by an Argentine aircraft took place, although the destination was Brazil via Buenos Aires.

Matias Suarez Anzorena, who speaks excellent English, was visibly impressed with the neat layout of Stanley and its clean and tidy appearance, and when told that several Argentine men, who are married to Falklands girls are permitted to live and work in the Islands under the status of ?belongers' jokingly said, ?I will look for a wife while I am here'.

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