Southern Star halts operations


(eTN) – Only a few weeks ago information was confirmed that South Sudan’s first post-independence airline, Southern Star, commenced flight operations, with big fanfare and big dreams. Following two months of erratic operations, though, Southern Star has already halted operations and ALS, the company in Nairobi they had leased their single aircraft from, has taken the Bombardier Dash 8 back.

It was not possible to get a comment from either owners or management of Southern Star at this time, but parallels are already being drawn with the short-lived reign of Skyjet, which while registered in Uganda, was owned by a South Sudanese businessman operating in Juba.

The routes to and from Juba are presently dominated by Kenyan- and Ugandan-based airlines, with Kenya Airways flying twice a day and Jetlink equally flying twice a day from Nairobi, while there are presently 8 flights a week on Air Uganda from Entebbe to Juba, due to progressively increase to double daily by early 2012.

This has left South Sudan, besides feeder airlines, with not much to match any of these airlines, and it explains the South Sudan’s governments expressed intent to form a national airline sooner rather than later, as the private sector appears unable to make things happen on a reliable and long-term basis.

Once that takes place, however, the upcoming negotiations over bilateral air services agreements will certainly also reflect the concept of reciprocity, to protect a South Sudanese-based and owned airline, even if the number of frequencies may then have to be shared or otherwise reduced to reflect the way rights of the new country.