While Sudan has significant potential to be the aviation hub of North-East Africa, it fails to achieve this status as a result of several geographic and political factors. While the country’s economy steadily improved during the ten-year oil boom and surge of foreign investment of the early 2000s, unfortunately, Sudan did not see the same progress in its airspace capabilities. The challenge to improve stands even more difficult since the country lost 75% of its oil resources to South Sudan and experienced prolonged US sanctions.
While the country has seen numerous airlines start and end operations over the years, to date there are four Sudanese airlines that have consistently flown to local and international destinations.
Based in Khartoum International Airport, the flag carrier Sudan Airways was founded in 1946 as a collaborative effort between Airwork Limited and Sudan Railways. It remained as a subsidiary of the latter until the government took over its operations in 1949. Sudan Airways performed solely domestic flights until 1954.
At its peak performance, the airline connected domestic destinations as well as undertaking flights in Africa and the Middle East. Cities frequented by Sudan Airways included Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Jeddah and Kano. Unfortunately, political unrest in the country along with international pressure caused the airline’s downfall and it currently performs limited operations with a single operational A320-200. The airline has also banned from flying into EU airspace since 2010.
In April of 2021 EgyptAir signed an agreement with Sudan Airways to assist the airline revitalize its performance after having suffered financially for over two decades. As part of the agreement, the Egyptians will assist their neighbors in expanding their fleet, enhance network planning along with providing training for flight, cabin and security employees. In addition maintenance facilities at Khartoum International are to be developed whilst EgyptAir will also be leasing aircraft to Sudan Airways to be used as charters for Umrah travelers.
A private airline, Badr started operations in 2004, providing both scheduled and charter flights as well as humanitarian cargo services.
In 2019 the airline acquired two leased E145 Embraer Regional Jets which add to their fleet of one B737-500 and two II-76TDs.
The airline currently performs several international flights to destinations that include Dubai, Istanbul and Juba along with serving local cities including Port Sudan and El Fashir. While in 2020 airline officials revealed plans for Badr Airlines to add London and Paris to its list of destinations to date no flights are available.
With its hub in Khartoum International Airport, Tarco Aviation (formerly Tarco Air) provides scheduled passenger flights to local as well as global destinations. The airline fleet consists of Boeing aircraft including two B737-400s as well as one Embraer Legacy 600.
At its maximum capacity, the airline performs 70 daily flights to 14 destinations throughout Africa and the Middle East including N’djamena, Doha, Entebbe and Riyadh.
A strictly domestic airline, Nova performs flights around Sudan using two CRJ2OOERs and a B727-500. The airline also provides a charter service that permits travelers to hire a private vessel with the choice to fly to over 5,000 destinations.
Other services provided by Nova Airways include ground handling services and catering.
There are several charter airline companies such as Air West and Mid Airlines that exist in Sudan offering transport services as well as travel alternatives.
Blue Bird Aviation, for instance, is a company founded in 1989 that started operations with Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft before moving onto the Fokker 50 and the Canadian Bomardier CRJ it uses today. Since its start, the airline also provides maintenance and ground handling services for light aircraft.
As a charter, the airline’s aircraft is dedicated to several uses from transporting resources and dangerous goods to sporting teams and the occasional tourists in Sudan.
Time to Move On
While Sudan’s aviation infrastructure is hindered in many ways, from Sudan Airways’s struggle to survive along with the lack in airport facilities and the overcapacity of Khartoum International, it is fortunate to see the private sector maintain the country’s airspace economy. As Sudan moves past its political turmoil and towards prosperity, at Eways we are enthusiastic to see the country grow to be the new aviation hub of North-East Africa.