Airlines benefiting from high demand for flights to southern Sudan

Business Daily yesterday reported that Kenya’s airlines are benefiting from more traffic to southern Sudan as the country’s week-long referendum drives demand.

According to the newspaper, data from airlines show that the passenger traffic between Nairobi and Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, increased to just over 8,000 from a monthly average of 5,800 passengers.

Airline executives at Fly540, Kenya Airways, Jetlink and Astral Aviation told Business Daily that they expect the higher demand to carry over into next month when the results of the referendum will be made known.

Increased traffic is being driven by Sudanese nationals travelling to vote, non-governmental organisations, regional business people as well as journalists and referendum observers from across the globe.

Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, last year started servicing the Nairobi-Juba route.

“Juba has become one of the important economic hubs [of] southern Sudan and Africa. Kenya Airways is synonymous with contributing to sustainable development across Africa. We envisage providing a seamless connection service to all passengers travelling in and out of Juba for business and development opportunities,” said Kenya Airways group managing director and chief executive officer, Dr Titus Naikuni, during a ceremony to mark the inaugural flight.

Southern Sudan on Sunday began voting in a referendum to determine whether to remain part of a united Sudan or become a separate state. The referendum was a core component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of conflict between the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government.