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South Sudanese start-up Southern Star launches operations

South Sudan has a new national carrier, following the launch of services by Southern Star Airlines.

The airline is operating a single 37-seat De Havilland Dash 8-100 turboprop on an initial one-year ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) lease from Kenyan lessor ALS.

It plans to add at least one Embraer ERJ-145 in the next few months, said ALS chief executive Cornwell Muleya.

Southern Star had turned to ALS, he added, because the latter had passed the IATA Operational Safety Audit.

"This will be a long-term partnership between us," said Muleya, whose company is seeking to source two ERJ-145s, probably from Europe. Southern Star is hoping to take one of the 50-seat aircraft around late October or early November.

Southern Star began operating domestic services from its base in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on 19 August 2011. Its website shows it operating to Malakal (five times weekly), Wau and Rumbek (four times weekly) and Aweil (thrice-weekly).

"Response in the market has been very good so far," said Muleya. "They expect the market to grow quickly."

According to Muleya, Southern Star hopes that the introduction of faster jet aircraft will allow it to step up domestic frequencies, as well as add international destinations. These are likely to include Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, Entebbe in Uganda and Dubai in the UAE. The Egyptian capital Cairo is another possibility, he said.

Southern Star is also looking at the possibility of establishing a cargo division by the end of the year, he said, although it has not yet decided on equipment.

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