The ongoing clashes in Khartoum have caused chaos and destruction, particularly at the city’s airport. More than a dozen airliners have been destroyed or heavily damaged, including an Airbus A330-300 belonging to Saudia, a Boeing 737-800 of the Ukrainian low-cost carrier Sky Up, an Embraer 135 operated by the United Nations, a 737-800 from Sudanese carrier Badr Airlines, and an Asia Cargo Airlines 737-300.
In addition to these civilian aircraft, there are reports of cargo and military planes being destroyed, including at least four Antonov An-12s, three An-26s, and two An-72s, as well as Su-25s and MiG-29s belonging to Egypt.
Badr Airlines 737-800 destroyed by fire during the latest fighting around Khartoum Airport in Sudan. Since Saturday, at least a dozen aircraft have been targeted as intense violence between the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Forces continues. pic.twitter.com/69zQQ4mGgk
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) April 21, 2023
The clashes have led to the closure of Sudan’s airspace until at least April 30, an impossible situation for commercial flights to operate. Sudan airspace is an important highway for quite a few key global routes and its closure has had a significant impact on major airlines operating in Africa.
The situation is particularly concerning for foreign nationals who are currently being evacuated from the conflict-stricken capital. Several countries, including Germany, have sent their military aircraft to assist with the evacuation process. The German Bundeswehr, for instance, has deployed three A400Ms to evacuate its citizens and other foreign nationals.
Tensions Between Army and RSF
The current unrest in Sudan is rooted in a power struggle between the country’s two most powerful generals, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. The two generals staged a joint coup in October 2021 but have since been in conflict over the details of the Rapid Support Force’s incorporation into the military as part of Sudan’s transition to a civilian government. The clashes have so far claimed the lives of over 400 people, according to the World Health Organization.
The situation at Khartoum airport remains uncertain, with both sides claiming control of the facility. While the prospects of resuming air traffic appear remote, the focus has now shifted on the safe evacuation of foreign nationals. The destruction of commercial and military planes, however, has raised concerns about the future of Sudan’s aviation industry and the country’s ability to provide air transport services in the aftermath of the conflict.
Featured image: Maxar