Khartoum seeks return of foreign airlines


(Posted 26th March 2014)

Information is reaching from Khartoum that the government is seeking to persuade Germany’s Lufthansa to restore flights between Frankfurt and the Sudanese capital, after the airline pulled out, after over 50 years of flying to KRT, in January this year. Sudan’s investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail made comments to this effect when opening, earlier this week, a German Sudanese Investment Forum in Khartoum, expressing his country’s desire to see the airline make an early return.

At the time when Lufthansa pulled out, other airlines had already done so before like KLM, was it notoriously difficult for them to repatriate the proceeds of ticket sales due to the lack of hard currency in the Sudan, a situation which has not much changed since then and would be a prerequisite for any airline to come back.

The lack of funds was made worse by the constant devaluation of the Sudanese Pound, in the end costing airline with fund stuck at Central Bank a fortune.

Over 20 German companies reportedly participated in the business and investment forum, a sign that economic ties remain at a good level, though the lack of air connections has certainly made it more difficult for German companies to fly their staff to Khartoum on their own home airline, instead having to opt for mainly Gulf carriers still serving the Sudan.

Insider information from Khartoum is that the government will have to provide iron clad guarantees and first repatriate funds stuck so far to the airlines concerned, at the exchange rates applicable when the tickets were sold, before any negotiations can start in earnest to find a common way forward to bring major European carriers back to Khartoum. Watch this space for regular and breaking aviation news from the wider Eastern African region.

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