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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #22)

Thu May 1, 2014, 03:21 AM

50. Portugal had notified Morales a day or two before his departure from Moscow that

refueling in Lisbon would be impossible, and so the final flight plan filed in Moscow indicating refueling in the Canary Islands. However, as the plane began to overfly the Alps, the crew nevertheless requested a landing in Lisbon to refuel, which was denied. The Spanish when contacted asserted a pre-cleared permission to overfly Spanish territory en route to the Canary Islands (a pre-clearance entirely in accordance with the final flight plan filed in Moscow). The French always maintained that they had granted permission in advance, based on the final flight plan filed in Moscow, that the second unanticipated in-flight request produced confusion about what plane was making the request (perhaps due to the deviation from the filed flight plan), and that they had granted permission as soon as they understood that the plane making the request was Morales' plane. The Italians also maintained that they had granted permission, but Morales' plane requested an emergency landing in Austria (claiming technical problems with a fuel gauge) and landed in Austria before overflying Italian airspace

This sounds very much like a failure on the part of the flight crew to obtain in Moscow enough fuel to reach the Canary Islands and a subsequent expectation that they could force Lisbon to allow them to refuel there, even though they had been told (before leaving Moscow) that refueling in Lisbon would be impossible and had modified their flight plan accordingly

The job of diplomats is to smooth over difficulties. The French, Italians, Portuguese, and Spanish ambassadors therefore all made soothing noises for Morales and declined to argue further when his government chose to characterize their responses as "apologies." So far as I was able to determine, no text for any of these "apologies" ever became public, and we therefore do not know exactly what soothing noises were offered to Morales, but the public statement of the Spanish ambassador Angel Vásquez in La Paz probably gives a good indication of the tenor of the various responses to Morales -- We are very regretful of the inconveniences that the president had to endure, the discomfort in which he found himself and also the annoyance he felt, which he has expressed vividly in recent days

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