Sudan’s Khartoum International Airport (KRT) has been closed following violent clashes between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group.
The violent encounter between the two parties began on April 15 and has since resulted in the destruction of two parked aircraft, including Saudia’s Airbus A330-300, which was preparing for departure to Riyadh, and a Boeing 737-800 operated by Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines, according to multiple sources. The RSF reportedly attempted to take over the airport, which led to an exchange of gunfire with the military, and the conflict has raised concerns about the safety of air travel in Sudan.
Impact on Closure of Sudan Airspace
The closure of Sudanese airspace has had a significant impact on major airlines operating in Africa, with Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Saudi Airlines potentially having to reroute flights to African and South American countries. Ethiopian Airlines has the most significant exposure due to its geographic position, potentially having to reroute up to 38 routes in its network.
EgyptAir suspended flights to and from Khartoum for 72 hours over security concerns, and Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged maximum restraint to protect the lives and capabilities of the Sudanese people.
Tension between the Military and RSF
Tensions between the army and the RSF have simmered since the military takeover of the civilian government in October 2021, and sustained fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital on April 15, including central Khartoum and the neighborhood of Bahr. The RSF claimed control of several key sites, including the presidential palace in the capital and Khartoum airport.