Falkland Islands lawmaker Sharon Halford rejected the Argentine proposal of direct flights from Buenos Aires to the Islands saying that “they are not needed” and expressed surprise at the double standard of President Cristina Fernandez administration.
“I’m quite surprised by the (air link) proposal, when at the same time they don’t allow us charter flights that cross Argentine air space”, said MLA Halford interviewed on Wednesday by Buenos Aires radio stations.
“We are offered this opening to the continent, but there is nothing new about it. I can’t speak for other people but I have sufficient years to remember that at one time there were direct flights between Argentina and the Falklands and that ended as we all know how”, underlined MLA Halford.
The Falklands lawmaker said she didn’t anticipate immediate any meeting to address the issue.
“Personally my answer to the proposal is negative, because we have very adequate flights to and from the Islands. Besides it would not represent any improvement since at the moment we have three weekly flights from the UK and South America, and honestly there is no need for those other flights”. And “let us not forget that Argentina doesn’t treat us very nicely currently and there is no desperation to receive the proposal”
However MLA Shalford confirmed the UK Government had passed the proposals recently made in London by the Argentine Ambassador.
Regarding fisheries MLA Halford indicated we have always said that we would welcome cooperation on practical issues such as fisheries. But this would not in any way affect our right to determine our own future. Our response to the proposals in due course will obviously reflect this.
MLA Mike Summers interviewed by the Falklands’ broadcasting station on the air-link proposal said the Argentine government should first look at some of the policies implemented against the Falklands such as the trade blockade and the ban on charter flights.
“I think the subject (of air links) came up in a discussion between the (Argentine) ambassador and the (Foreign Office) minister in their first meeting, and it’s not a formal proposition as such, but I understand the ambassador said that these flights might assist the comfort and well being of the people of the Falklands”, said MLA Summers.
But, he immediately added if that is the real interest of the Argentine government, air links is not the place to start, “they should look at some of the policies of the Argentine government like the blockade of trade and the blockade of charter flights”.
However MLA Summers was positive about discussions on fisheries protection as was also mentioned in the Argentine proposal to the Foreign Office.
“I think that is certainly worth examining very closely and approaching with a very positive outlook because getting the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission back and working again would be very much in our interest and ideally we should look at that and see what the proposals are”, concluded MLA Summers.
On Tuesday Argentine Ambassador in the UK met with Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne and made a formal proposal in letters to Foreign Secretary William Hague for the establishment of direct flights from Argentina to the Falklands and to resume cooperation in the conservation of fishery resources in the South Atlantic.
The several flights a week from Buenos Aires to the Falklands would be operated by the country’s flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas, according to the proposal
The Falklands currently have a direct air link with the UK with a stop in Ascension Island and a weekly commercial Lan Chile flight from Punta Arenas, extreme south of Chile, which once a months calls at Rio Gallegos, Argentina.