KLM pulls out of Khartoum


(eTN) – Royal Dutch Airline KLM has announced that effective March 31 of this year they will halt flights between Amsterdam and Khartoum, citing unsatisfactory performance of the route.
There has been speculation if Khartoum’s harsh economic environment, which saw allocation of foreign exchange to repatriate ticket sales suspended – in spite of existing international agreements which ordinarily exempt airlines from such measures – or if simply the increasing isolation of the regime has led to the decline now seen.

Regime leader Gen. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity and has pushed his country more and more to take radical position in order to attract financial support from countries demanding such political concessions. Suspension of oil exports by South Sudan via the harbor of Port Sudan has also deprived Khartoum of much needed hard currency, and being left with just over 20 percent of what oil reserves the united Sudan once had – the balance went with South Sudan on independence in July 2011 – the country has suffered from severe economic problems ever since.

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KLM had last decade for a period of time already suspended flights to Khartoum but resumed the service eventually, most recently operating three times a week. The flight then continued to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city.

Only last week did Khartoum Sudan’s tourism minister lambast international tourists, all but banning anyone coming for booze and bikini holidays, effectively sealing the departure of KLM by driving the last nail into the tourism coffin of his country.

Passengers to Khartoum can now fly with KLM’s African partner Kenya Airways from Cairo, where it operates a regular service via Khartoum to Nairobi, and vice versa, to stay within SkyTeam carriers.