Sudanese start-up Blue Nile to use Bahrain Air A320s

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Middle Eastern carrier Bahrain Air is to help launch a Sudan-based full-service airline, Blue Nile Airways, which will begin operations in March with an Airbus A320.

The start-up will be based in Khartoum and is being backed by Bahraini investment house HMA and a Egyptian-Sudanese company identified as AFAQ. The A320 is to be wet-leased from Bahrain Air.

Bahrain Air will supply Blue Nile with "technical know-how and expertise", says managing director Ibrahim Al Hamer. The new airline has $20 million of capital from the other investors and will serve destinations in Sudan itself, Egypt and the Gulf.

Speaking at the Bahrain air show, HMA chairman Abdulhakim Allawy said Blue Nile was looking to acquire three more A320s this year, wet-leased through Bahrain Air.

He says the vision for Blue Nile is to create "a regional carrier" for northeast Africa. "It is a new concept for this part of the world," he says. "That is why we chose the generic name Blue Nile."

Because of Western sanctions against the Sudanese Government, manufacturers and lessors cannot supply new or leased airliners or parts to the country.

However, Allawy says this will not be an issue as the aircraft will be maintained at HMA's subsidiary Gulf Aviation Technology in Bahrain.

Al Hamer says he believes Blue Nile can become the "airline of choice" in Sudan, adding: "Professionalism and safety will be our number one concerns."