KENYA AIRWAYS SUSPENDS JUBA SERVICES AS OF TODAY TILL END OF DECEMBER
(Posted 24th December 2014)
Information is emerging from Nairobi that Kenya Airways will as of the last flight yesterday, 23rd December, suspend flights in and out of Juba until at least 31st December this year, during which the airline will be carrying out a full assessment of security and safety issues by then. A source close to the airline confirmed that concerns had risen over the past two days of operational safety of incoming and outgoing flights in Juba, eventually leading to Kenya Airways taking this hard decision.
Passengers, who heard about this development yesterday in disbelief if not outright panic, were crowding at Juba’s International Airport in order to get out of the South Sudan capital city before dusk brought flight operations to a halt – Juba can only operate in daylight due to a lack of technical facilities – as rumours swept the grapevine of an imminent attack by rebel forces on the capital. Those left behind, when the last of the three daily Kenya Airways flights left for Nairobi yesterday, now only have hope that the Kenya Air Force may send in more aircraft to evacuate Kenyans, though other nationalities will now ponder their next moves of how to get out as the conflict spreads.
Fly 540, the other airline flying from Nairobi to Juba, is reportedly continuing flights but will according to a source at Juba airport assess the situation from flights to flight and only operate after their station personnel have given them the latest updates from the airport before a flight leaves from Nairobi.
No comments could be obtained from Air Uganda or RwandAir about their continued operations into Juba from Entebbe and Kigali respectively over the holiday period, though it was learned that the Rwandan government was looking into evacuating Rwandan nationals in South Sudan who want to leave for home.
Dark times for those left stranded in Juba and beyond across South Sudan as Christmas Eve dawns, more so as President Kiir’s reported walkout of talks with the wife of former SPLA leader Garang indicates that there may be no hope for progress in halting the fighting and dimming prospects of a ceasefire over Christmas. Watch this space.