Airline launches scheduled flights to Rumbek
The East African Safari Air Express [EASAX] has achieved another feat by becoming the first airline to launch scheduled flights to the southern Sudanese town of Rumbek. “We are delighted to be spreading our wings to southern Sudan and are proud to be the first scheduled airline to support peace in the region”, said the airline’s managing director Mr Adam Ogden.
According to a statement from the airline, two weekly return flights will be operated initially on Mondays and Fridays, with the Fokker 27 aircraft departing from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [JKIA]. The airline also became the first one to operate scheduled flights from Nairobi to Lokichoggio, on the Kenya-Sudan border when it ventured into the route two years ago. Currently, it operates daily flights to Lokichoggio and two daily ones to the Kenyan lakeside city of Kisumu.
The airline said it would deploy larger aicraft on the Rumbek route, once the airstrip has been upgraded. The Rumbek airstrip falls under the jurisdiction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army [SPLM/A] and is due for upgrading following the recent signing of a peace agreement, which also recognized Rumbek as the provisional capital of southern Sudan.
In 2003, the airline also became the first one to fly directly from Mombasa and Nairobi into western Europe. But last year the airline took a nose-dive after an impressive start. The airline’s operations were grounded early September, with receivers from Delloitte, an international audit and consultancy firm, moving in to take control of its assets. This was after it suspended all its operations with immediate effect, due to a combination of a massive buildup of over $15million in debts owed to suppliers and the withdrawal of substantial funds by former majority shareholders and directors.
Trouble for the airline began on 29 July when the Italian Civil Aviation Authority suspended it from flying into Italy, because of faulting technical operation standards. The suspension was slapped a day after one of the airline’s Boeing 767-300 made an emergency landing at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport following an engine fire. But more salt was rubbed into the wound when the then heavily indebted airline was thrown out of the International Air Transport Association [IATA] Clearing House over its inability to clear debts owed to other international airlines.