Lufthansa May Help Sudan Relaunch Its National Carrier

Ailing national carrier Sudan Airways is reportedly in talks with Lufthansa Consulting to revive the airline’s fortunes. Stumped by EU flight bans and US sanctions, the airline has fallen a long way from where it once was. But with the assistance of one of the industry’s leading restructuring consultancies onboard, could the tables be turning for Sudan Airways?

Sudan Airways A320
Sudan Airways has just one A320 in active service. Photo: Michel Gilliand via Wikimedia

Could Lufthansa Consulting rescue Sudan Airways?

Lufthansa’s consulting arm is reportedly in talks with the government of Sudan over the restructuring of the country’s ailing air carrier. Sudan Airways, one of the oldest airlines in Africa, has suffered from a combination of sanctions from the US and bans from flying into Europe, and is a shadow of its former self.

Since the lifting of sanctions in 2017, there have been rumors of a revival for the Sudanese carrier. Now, it seems the airline could be helped by one of the industry’s most accomplished consulting firms, Lufthansa Consulting.

The nature of the help has not been revealed, but could go as far as a joint venture partnership. According to an interview reported by Bloomberg, Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim said,

“If not through a joint venture, they can help to restructure Sudan Airways so that it can be competitive.”

Sudan Airways De Havialland Dove
Sudan Airways is one of the oldest airlines in Africa. Photo: RuthAS via Wikimedia

Lufthansa Consulting is an independent subsidiary of the German flag carrier. It provides consultancy for airlines, airports and other related industries. Founded in 1998, it has worked on projects including the turnaround of Mexicana de Aviacion, the restructuring of Saudia and the expansion of Air Astana.

The group has experience in Africa too, having been involved in the development of Ouagadougou International Airport in Burkina Faso, restructuring at Air Madagascar and upgrading operational processes at Kenya Airways. As such, it is in a good position to assist Sudan in the revival of a national carrier it can be proud to host.

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A revival on the cards?

Sudan Airways is one of Africa’s oldest airlines, having been formed from the ashes of the second world war in February 1946. Flying four De Havilland Doves, it began scheduled flight in 1947. A decade later, it joined IATA and by the 1960s had entered the jet age with the addition of two Comet 4Cs.

Sudan Airways Comet
The airline entered the jet age in the early 60s. Photo: Steve Fitzgerald via Wikimedia

Over the coming years, it flew 707s, A300s, 737s and many more types. However, the sanctions imposed against Sudan left its flag-carrying airline unable to procure spare parts for its fleet, or indeed any new planes. One by one, the airline was forced to ground its fleet, with 12 of its 14 aircraft unable to fly by 2017.

Today, the airline is a mere shadow of what it once was, with just two aircraft listed as under its ownership according to ch-aviation. An A320-200, formerly operated by Comoro Islands Airline, joined the fleet in 2016 and remains the only operational aircraft today. An A300, formerly of China Airlines, is leased by the airline, but is in storage at Khartoum.

However, there have been signs of a revival since the lifting of the sanctions in 2017. Rumors of a deal with King Salman of Saudi Arabia suggested as many as 14 aircraft could be supplied by the Middle Eastern nation. The Sudanese Ministry of Transport has been working to restructure the $6 million of debt owed by the airline. And just a few weeks ago, EgyptAir was reported to have signed a strategic partnership, which included Egyptian training of the Sudanese airline’s personnel.

Now, if the airline gets Lufthansa Consulting onboard, it could forge a pathway to a successful revival. Time will tell, and as usual, we’ll have to wait and see.

For more insight into African aviation, don’t miss AviaDev Africa, the industry’s premier route development conference, being held virtually this year. The event starts on Weds 9th of July, and runs for two days.