Friday, March 8, 2013

■ SUDAN: Government announces plan to rehabilitate Sudan Airways; to hold accountable those responsible for Sudan Airways' lost Heathrow slot.

Sudan AirwaysFollowing a consultative meeting with President Omar Al Bashir regarding the current state and future of national carrier Sudan Airways (SD), Sudan's Minister of Transport, Roads and Bridges, Dr. Ahmed Babikir Nahar, has made mention of a 3-step government plan aimed at rehabilitating and restructuring the ailing national carrier. Nahar also added that possible punitive steps are to be taken against those fingered in an investigation into the loss of Sudan Airways' valuable landing slot at London's Heathrow airport.

Laid up Sudan Airways A300-600 in  Khartoum
A laid up Sudan Airways A300-600 in
Khartoum (UR-SDV)
According to Dr Nahar, Sudan Airways is to be rehabilitated in three phases including: recovery, the purchase of new aircraft and the establishment of "a real fleet." At present, the airline's fleet consists of inactive ageing Airbus A300s, a fleet of Fokker 50s and a leased Comorian Airbus A320.

In mid February, Sudan signed a preliminary deal with Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer, Antonov, for the purchase of  five Antonov An-158 or An-148 regional jets for onward placement in Sudan Airways (SD). The move was precipitated by Sudan Airways' inability to access Western aircraft owing to US trade sanctions against Khartoum.

Regarding the controversial loss of Sudan Airways' Heathrow slot, Dr Nahar says President Al Bashir has directed that those responsible for the loss of national carrier's Heathrow landing slot be held accountable and that the slot be either "reinstated or have the airline reimbursed."
"Nahar said that the Sudan Airways CEO and former investment minister Al-Sharif Ahmed Omer Badr has been implicated in the highly controversial scandal.

Badr has reportedly approved sale of the Heathrow slot to British Midland International (BMI) for millions of dollars. Badr was fired from Sudan Airways after the Kuwaiti Arif Investment Group (AIG) took over. When the Heathrow issue surfaced AIG denied any involvement.

Details of the sale remain murky with some suggesting involvement of many parties.
 Source [Sudan Tribune]

Sudan Airways has not been allowed to operate flights to the European Union, let alone London, following its placement on the EU's Blacklist.

That was all meant to have changed when Kuwait-based Aref Investment Group planned to turn Khartoum into a regional hub by investing more than USD1billion in Sudan Airways by 2012 with fleet renewal plans to have included three Airbus A330s. 

However, following the sell off of Aref's 49% stake in Sudan Airways in September 2011, citing "the cessation of South Sudan" amongst the mitigating factors, Sudan Airways reverted to full Government control.