End of U.S. Sanctions Breathes New Life Into Sudanese Airline
Sudanese carrier Sun Air is resuming flights to four destinations as the African country looks to shed its pariah status and rebuild the economy after years of U.S. sanctions.
The family-owned airline has opened a route to South Sudan and plans to fly to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, Vice President Mohammed Saif said in a Wednesday phone interview from Khartoum.
The company also operated two evacuation flights from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, he said. That illustrated Sudan’s improved relationship with the U.S. after the nation’s removal from a list of state sponsors of terrorism after 27 years in 2020.
“We decided to relaunch earlier this year after the complete removal of U.S. sanctions,” said Saif, whose father is the founder and main owner. “The Sudanese government is doing good things in terms of turning back to the international community.”
Sudan is looking for growth after decades of mismanagement and lost oil wealth under former President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted by the army following an uprising two years ago. The revived carrier could eventually help to establish Khartoum as a hub after losing ground to Ethiopian Airlines Group’s base in Addis Ababa, if it can add enough destinations, Saif said.
Sun Air is also looking to fill a gap left by state-owned Sudan Airways. Lufthansa Consulting, a subsidiary of German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG, is advising on a restructuring of the airline.
Sun Air’s revival is the latest sign of a recovery in African air travel following the coronavirus pandemic, though border restrictions within the continent have been notably less strict than in many other parts of the world. South African Airways resumed flights after 18 months last week, while Chicago-based United Airlines Holdings Inc. signed a new southern Africa codeshare and unveiled plans to open routes to Nigeria and Ghana.
Sun Air is in talks with authorities in Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Syria about adding those destinations, Saif said. The carrier is planning to use two Embraer SA E190s, a pair of Airbus SE A330s and a brace of A321s, according to the website.
The stabilization of the dollar rate versus the Sudanese pound combined with an end of sanctions as an incentive to return to the skies, Saif said. Wild price fluctuations in recent years made it next to impossible to predict costs or set ticket prices, he said.
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