KHARTOUM, Jan 9 (Reuters) - KLM, part of Air France-KLM
, will stop flying to Sudan from late March due to weak
demand, an official of the Dutch airline said on Wednesday.
Germany's Lufthansa will be the last large
European carrier to serve Khartoum apart from Turkish Airways
Arab carriers also still fly to Sudan, which was once one of
Africa's biggest growth markets, but their bookings have fallen,
industry sources say.
KLM will operate its three-times-a-week service from
Amsterdam to Khartoum and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for the last
time on March 26, country manager Dick van Nieuwenhuyzen said.
The route has not been profitable since last year due to the
exit of aid groups, he told Reuters.
Until South Sudan's secession in 2011, foreign airlines
enjoyed a bonanza as Sudan was flush with billions of dollars of
oil revenues and Khartoum, the capital, hosted thousands of aid
workers, U.N. officials and diplomats.
Such was the rise in traffic following the end of the civil
war with the South in 2005 that Sudan planned a new airport to
replace the current Khartoum International, built by British
colonial rulers in the 1950s.
Authorities want to start construction this year but air
traffic has dropped since the southern secession, which threw
the economy into crisis with the loss of most oil reserves. The
United Nations and aid groups have relocated most of their staff
to South Sudan, while embassies have also cut staff.
Lufthansa threatened last year to halt its flights after
Sudan tried to make it pay for jet fuel in dollars before
backing off, the sources say.
The central bank forces foreign airlines to sell tickets in
Sudanese pounds, which have more than halved in value since the
southern secession and are nearly impossible to convert into
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Anthony Barker)