In mid-1991 scheduled domestic air service was provided by Sudan
Airways, a government-owned enterprise operated by the Sudan Airways
Company. The company began its operations in 1947 as a government
department. It has operated commercially since the late 1960s,
holding in effect a monopoly on domestic service. In 1991 Sudan
Airways had scheduled flights from Khartoum to twenty other domestic
airports, although it did not always adhere to its schedules.
It also provided international services to several European countries,
including Britain, Germany, Greece, and Italy. Regional flights
were made to North Africa and the Middle East as well as to Chad,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. The Sudan Airways fleet
in 1991 consisted of thirteen aircraft, including five Boeing
707s used on international flights, two Boeing 737s and two Boeing
727s employed in domestic and regional services, and four Fokker
F-27s used for domestic flights.
Sixteen international airlines provided regular flights to Khartoum.
The number of domestic and international passengers increased
from about 478,000 in 1982 to about 485,000 in 1984. Air freight
increased from 6 million tons per kilometer in 1982 to 7.7 million
tons per kilometer in 1984. As compared with the previous year,
in 1989 passenger traffic on Sudan Airways fell by 32 percent
to 363,181 people, reducing the load factor to 34.9 percent. By
contrast, freight volume increased by 63.7 percent to 12,317 tons.
At the end of 1979, Sudan Airways had entered into a pooling agreement
with Britain's Tradewind Airways to furnish charter cargo service
between that country and Khartoum under a subsidiary company,
Sudan Air Cargo. A new cargo terminal was built at Khartoum.
Sudan Airways's operations have generally shown losses, and in
the early 1980s the corporation was reportedly receiving an annual
government subsidy of about £Sd500,000. In 1987 the government
proposed to privatize Sudan Airways, precipitating a heated controversy
that ultimately led to a joint venture between the government
and private interests. Like the railroads and river transport
operators, however, Sudan Airways suffered from a shortage of
skilled personnel, overstaffing, and lacked hard currency and
credit for spare parts and proper maintenance.
In the early 1980s, the country's civilian airports, with the
exception of Khartoum International Airport and the airport at
Juba, sometimes closed during rainy periods because of runway
conditions. After the 1986 drought, which caused major problems
at regional airports, the government launched a program to improve
runways, to be funded locally. Aeronautical communications and
navigational aids were minimal and at some airports relatively
primitive. Only Khartoum International Airport was equipped with
modern operational facilities, but by the early 1990s, Khartoum
and seven other airports had paved runways. In the mid-1970s,
IDA and the Saudi Development Fund agreed to make funds available
for construction of new airports at Port Sudan and Waw, reconstruction
and improvement of the airport at Malakal, and substantial upgrading
of the Juba airport; these four airports accounted for almost
half of domestic traffic. Because the civil war resumed, improvements
were made only at Port Sudan. Juba airport runways were rebuilt
by a loan from the European Development Fund, but the control
tower and navigational equipment remained incomplete.
Data as of June 1991