KHARTOUM – Sudan’s national carrier aims to revive its fleet by procuring new components from Boeing and Airbus after Washington lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo on Khartoum, a minister said Sunday.
Sudan Airways, one of the oldest airlines in Africa, has 12 of its 14-strong fleet of aircraft grounded after failing to source spare parts from Boeing and Airbus because of the sanctions imposed in 1997.
But on Friday, Washington lifted the embargo after months of diplomatic negotiations with Khartoum.
The airline is now expected to be a key beneficiary of the move.
“We expect our cooperation with Boeing and Airbus to resume as we had excellent relations with them before the sanctions,” Transport Minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad told AFP.
Awad said the airline had been “severely impacted” by the sanctions as it had only Boeing and Airbus planes.
“One by one all our planes stopped flying until the entire fleet was grounded because we were unable to get spare parts,” he said.
“You go to Khartoum airport and you will find all our planes parked.”
Sudan Airways declined to give access to AFP to photograph its aircraft on the ground.
The top U.S. envoy in Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, told reporters on Saturday that the U.S. Department of Commerce had already addressed the issue of spares that Sudanese airlines or the country’s railways need.
“Only a few parts that have what we call dual use technology will remain prohibited,” he told reporters.
Washington imposed the sanctions over Khartoum’s alleged support for Islamist militant groups. Osama bin Laden, the slain al-Qaida founder, lived in Sudan between 1992 and 1996.
The sanctions had put restrictions on international banking transactions, exchange of technology and spare parts. Combined with other cumbersome trade regulations, they hampered Sudan’s economic growth, especially sectors such as transport.
With the lifting of the sanctions, Awad was optimistic that the airline will also be able to resume flying international routes, including to Europe.
“Sudan Airways still owns air slots to Europe, Asia and Africa. We can get our operating licences back now that the sanctions have been lifted,” he said.