SUDAN AIRWAYS LOSS OF HEATHROW SLOTS PROMPTS UPROAR IN KHARTOUM
Sudanese regime leader Bashir was quoted in local media reports in Khartoum, demanding the slots previously held by Sudan Airways at London’s Heathrow airport to be either returned to the airline or else the airline be given the money from the apparent sale of these valuable assets, after news emerged that the slots had been sold to British airline BMI some years ago. This reportedly comes after a comprehensive report into the transaction and the airline itself was produced by a probe team put in place to find out the true state of financial and operational affairs at Sudan Airways. The individuals allegedly involved are now under reported investigation to establish where the money paid actually went, as records – according to the probe report – within the airline do not reflect such payments at the time.
When Sudan got hit by global sanctions the slots, while still held by Sudan Airways, were reportedly first ‘leased out’ before eventually sold, allegedly while the airline was under the management of Kuwait’s Arif Investment Group, which has since left as the airline reverted to state management last year. The Kuwaiti group though, according to a source in Khartoum, denied any involvement in the deal, claiming it was done prior to their arrival in 2007 when they acquired 49 percent of the airline and management rights, and laid the blame squarely at the local management in place at the time when the transaction was sealed.
Operating a fleet of aged aircraft national airline Sudan Airways in past years suffered several setbacks, caused by civil aviation regulators flight bans following several crashes and is struggling to maintain an orderly domestic and regional schedule to where the airline can still fly. The airline, according to other sources, has presently only 6 operational aircraft including two A300’s, one A320 and three F50’s with 3 more aircraft ‘stored’, in other words unserviceable due to lack of spare parts or other unresolved technical issues. During its history since the formation of the airline in 1946 the company recorded 21 accidents, 7 of them with fatalities.
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