Tuesday, September 4, 2012

► SUDAN: Sudan Airways, Marsland Aviation apply for Juba rights as flights between Sudan/South Sudan are set to resume.

Sudan AirwaysIn a sign that strained relations between Sudan and its new southern neighbour, South Sudan, are improving, the two countries' civil aviation authorities on Friday reached a provisional deal that now opens the way for Sudanese carriers to restart direct flights between Khartoum and Juba, though whether flights between other towns and cities have been given the go ahead, is unclear.

Marsland Aviation, Khartoum Airport, Sudan
Marsland Aviation in Khartoum (sspotter)
Thus far, only Sudanese national Sudan Airways (SD) and Marsland Aviation (M7) are said to have applied for traffic rights to Juba with more airlines are expected to apply in due course, though when flights will resume exactly, is still a matter for the bureaucrats to resolve.

In April, the two nations fought a brief border skirmish at Heglig, along the Sudan/South Sudan border, following which Khartoum imposed a moratorium on all flights to the South claiming that the flights were no longer domestic and therefore required an international agreement. 

The development comes after the first diplomatic encounter between the two nations last week by the Sudanese Under-secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, whose visit to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and meeting with South Sudan's  Minister of Interior, Alison Manani Magaya, paved the way for the South's aviation officials to pay a reciprocal visit to Khartoum, culminating in Friday's agreement.

Regarding the agreement, Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman said:
"The two countries agreed to resume the flights between the two capitals," he said. South Sudan's transport ministry confirmed the agreement. "We signed the day before yesterday and then the procedures will take place," he said. "I hope it will be soon."
Source [Reuters]

David Martin, Under-secretary in South Sudan's Ministry of Transport, stated that the ball was now in the North's court as the South was yet to set up a viable national airline.

Despite the agreement, the North, still maintains that there was never a moratorium on flights in the first place and that it was simply following international law by insisting that an agreement be signed.
"The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, pointed out that the government did not prevent flights between Khartoum and Juba, the capital of South Sudan State, but it has earlier demanded settlement of conditions and signing of an international agreement, because the air flight between Khartoum and Juba are no longer internal flights."  

The thaw in relations has now given impetus for further negotiations to occur, with more talks between the two neighbours set for Tuesday 4 September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.