Sudan Airways is working with the country's Civil Aviation Authority to help in efforts to lift the current European Commission ban on Sudan's operators serving the EU as it targets resuming London services next summer.
The Commission's blacklist prevents carriers with poor safety records, or in some cases an entire country's airlines, from operating within Europe. Sudan is one of a number of African states on which the EC has imposed a blanket ban.
Speaking to Flightglobal Pro during the recent African Airline Association's (AFRAA) annual general assembly in Marrakech, Morocco, Sudan Airways' secretary general Abdul Rahman Fadl M.Salih said: "Our number one priority is to get Sudan's CAA removed from the blacklist and we are helping all we can to make that happen". He said once this goal was accomplished, Sudan would then be able to demonstrate how to achieve removal to other blacklisted African CAAs.
The carrier's general manager Al Obaid Fadl AlMoula said that the airline and CAA were consulting with a number of parties to define a process for Sudan's removal from the list. He also said that the EU was assisting with helping Sudan improve its safety record. Sudan Airways has just passed its third consecutive IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) audit and also operates aircraft under an air operators' certificate from Comoros as well as leased aircraft.
M.Salih said that he hoped removal could be achieved as early as June or July 2012 when Sudan Airways intends to resume a service to London Heathrow from Khartoum, possibly using an Airbus A320. He said that if removal could not be achieved by that time, Sudan Airways would look at other solutions such as leasing.
"The EU knows Sudan Airways had been flying routes to Europe for decades. Sudan Airways is 64 years old. We used to operate daily to London as well as twice a week to Paris, Rome, Frankfurt and Athens," he said. The carrier's last flight to Paris took place at the end of 2007.
Another difficulty for the carrier, which AlMoula said it could not be so proactive about, is the issue of US sanctions on Sudan. This makes obtaining spare parts and new aircraft difficult. Acknowledging that a political solution is required, he said that Sudan Airways was making efforts to exempt itself from the sanctions. "We need exemption from the sanctions as they really hurt us. An aircraft can be grounded for a long time if you can't get parts."